Minister Pandor applauds Biovac for vaccine research and development capability.
24 March 2010
A delegation from the Science and Technology Ministry headed up by, Minister Naledi Pandor, paid a visit to The Biovac Institute in Cape Town yesterday, where they were given a tour of The Biovac Institute’s facilities that will eventually become Africa’s leading vaccine manufacturing operation. “Once fully operational, The Biovac Institute will be the only end to end manufacturing facility that will cater not only to our country’s domestic vaccine needs, but also the regional and continental vaccine needs”, says Dr Morena Makhoana, Deputy CEO, Biovac Institute.
“It is very exciting and rewarding to witness the strides made by The Biovac Institute since the DST’s involvement in 2007.” says Minister Pandor. She adds, “The additional investment of R 11 million made by the department in 2009 has led to the initiation of R & D into conjugation vaccine development by The Biovac Institute, which is cutting edge vaccine technology. Vaccines developed using these technologies are being adopted by many of the developed nations.”
The Biovac Institute has already successfully conducted research and development of the Hib (Haemophilus influenza b) and is currently developing the Pneumococcal paediatric vaccines in partnership with PATH( Program for Allied Technologies in Health), Both vaccines are being developed for the African market in line with The Biovac Institute’s strategic growth objective, being the dominant supplier of vaccines on the African continent. “We are essentially developing a home grown solution utilising the best and most advanced global R & D capabilities to help build our children’s immune systems against infections and diseases.”
Dr Makhoana explains that the traditional polysaccharide Hib and Pneumococcal vaccines were unable to elicit an immune response in children under the age of two years of age,. With the introduction of the advanced conjugate vaccines, children under the age of two will now benefit as their immune systems are built up after receiving the vaccine. With over 1 million new babies being born each year into South Africa, the advances in conjugate vaccine technology for vaccines such as Haemophilus influenza type b (Hib) and Pneumococcal will greatly assist the South African government in reducing childhood mortality rates as well as the burden of disease.
“I am buoyed by the success of The Biovac Institute in their research and development within this highly specialist field, as it means that the country has been able to develop new biotechnology processes that is both locally innovative, and internationally competitive and will most importantly benefit and enhance the lives of not only our citizens but the continent’s, added Minister Pandor.
The Biovac Instituteis a PPP established in 2003 between the South African Government and a strategic equity partner, Biovac Consortium. Based in Cape Town, South Africa, The Biovac Institute has played a pivotal role in the South African government’s implementation of its paediatric EPI programme. It is currently on track to become the continent’s only end to end vaccine manufacturing facility, aimed at effectively addressing, initially, the region’s vaccine needs.
Conjugated vaccine technology, is the process whereby, a vaccine containing bacterial capsular polysaccharide is chemically linked to a protein to enhance immunogenicity. This is especially in instances where vaccines are used to immunize infants and children against invasive disease caused by Haemophilus influenza b, Meningococcus and Pneumoccocal bacteria.
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