African Vaccine Maker Plans To Increase Production Capacity Sevenfold By 2013

Biovac Institute, a South African vaccine maker, said Monday that it is working with other major pharmaceutical firms to increase its annual capacity sevenfold to 35 million doses by 2013, Reuters reports. Morena Makhoana, the company’s deputy chief executive, said that 25 million of those doses will remain in Africa. “We are in discussions with Sanofi-Pasteur, a unit of Sanofi-Aventis, with GlaxoSmithKline and with Wyeth, who are now called Pfizer, and all three of them have shown a willingness to enter into a technology transfer with one, or a few, of their vaccines already in the South African market,” Makhoana said.

“The company estimates it would cost some 130 million rand ($17.10 million) to fund its expansion programme over the next three years … It is also looking at loans from South Africa’s Industrial Development Corporation and international partners,” the news service writes. The expanded capacity would help Biovac respond to pandemics, such as H1N1 (swine flu), and involve it in the whole vaccine development process rather than just in late production phases, which is what it does now, Makhoana said.

According to Makhoana, after the expansion, the company would like to do more work with international organizations, such as UNICEF. “We are hoping to provide UNICEF with those vaccines and the geographical location of Biovac is very important because to transport the vaccines, from here to say, Lesotho … is much easier than it coming from Asia or Europe” (Roelf, 1/25).