First Vaccine to Be Made in South Africa Since Mid-1990s

Biovac, South Africa’s state vaccine company, has started manufacturing a pediatric vaccine under license from Sanofi Pasteur, marking the first time an inoculation has been made in the country since the mid-1990s.

The Hexaxim vaccine protects against six leading childhood diseases - diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, hepatitis B, haemophilus influenza B and poliomyelitis.

“Biovac is extremely proud to be able to commence local manufacture of one of the most complex combination vaccines,” said Morena Makhoana, Chief Executive Officer of Biovac in a statement released Thursday.

Biovac was established in 2003 to revive vaccine production in South Africa. The vaccine was introduced into the Department of Health’s Expanded Programme of Immunization in 2015, and over five-million infants have received it to date. Now it will be made locally.

“We need a lot more manufacturing capabilities. Not only Biovac, Biovac wants to expand, but we also need others to come to the party,” said Makhoana.

In Africa, aside from South Africa, only Senegal, Egypt and Tunisia have vaccine manufacturing capacity. Immunizations can save up to three million lives a year worldwide, said Stephen Alix, Head of Commercial Operations (International Region) at Sanofi Pasteur during the virtual launch of the vaccine.

“Globally, South Africa is the leading country in the utilization of this type of vaccine,” said Alix in a statement. Sanofi has “very few partnerships of this nature,” he said.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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