Why vaccine manufacture in Africa?
The need to establish vaccine manufacture was in response to the lack of human vaccine manufacturing capacity on the continent of Africa. Human vaccines are a cornerstone of any primary healthcare system, and have played a significant role in eliminating diseases such as smallpox, reducing the burden of diseases such as poliomyelitis and measles and are the most effective response to pandemics. The continent of Africa is most in need of consistent supply of affordable vaccines in order to address vaccine-preventable diseases that continuously plague the continent. With less than 5 vaccine manufacturers on the continent and none in Southern Africa, it was imperative that capacity be established particularly as Africa imports in excess of a billion doses of vaccines per year but the manufacturing contribution is less than one percent of that. Biovac started its journey of building manufacturing capability by following a reverse integration approach wherein we have been importing, exporting, packaging, testing and supplying vaccines. Our leap of faith ensured that we delivered the required vaccines to the children’s vaccination program, known as the Expanded Programme on Immunisation and the private sector in South Africa and the region.
To ensure continued and seamless delivery; we coordinate supply and demand with offshore suppliers, the South African Department of Health, private sector partners and other partners to ensure that the required vaccines get to where they are needed in all nine provinces of South Africa and a few neighbouring countries. Over 15 million doses of vaccines are delivered a year via our cold and supply chain infrastructure to ensure that the quality of the vaccines at the point of use is guaranteed.
Our Manufacturing Facilities
Our journey to re-establish modern manufacturing capability within the African continent has progressed steadily and significantly. Our licensed manufacturing facilities ensure that we continue to constantly deliver quality products. To date, Biovac has invested over R800 million in infrastructure and skills development with an economic benefit of over R500 million per year to the South African economy. To ensure the manufacture of quality products we have world-class manufacturing infrastructure (upstream processing, downstream processing, formulation, filling, inspection, labelling and packaging), Quality Control laboratories and we have also invested in warehouses with significant cold-storage capacity.
Our sustainable strength, as we progress on our journey lies in our ability to partner with others. We have partnered with research organisations like the University of Cape Town, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research – CSIR, international organisations (World Health Organisation – WHO, Program for Applied Technologies in Health – PATH), industry (Sanofi Pasteur of France, BioFarma of Indonesia, Pfizer of USA) and funding organisations (The Industrial Development Corporation). Through these partnerships, we have set up the infrastructure described above and are in-sourcing technologies. Biovac has also developed its own vaccine manufacturing technologies and out-licensed these to international partners.
Currently, we employ over 320 employees; 85% of whom obtained their tertiary education through universities, trade schools and colleges whilst the remaining 15% predominantly have a bachelor’s degree or higher qualification. Appropriately skilled and qualified staff are recruited, retained and developed through intensive training programs locally and abroad, the latter with manufacturing partners and international training institutions.