Higher Education, Science and Technology minister Blade Nzimande says that government plans to build a local coronavirus vaccine manufacturing plant.
Speaking in a virtual conference on Friday (31 July), Nzimande said that the plant would be headed up by both government officials, pharmaceutical companies and private-sector vaccine specialists.
“The aim is to get South Africa into a state of readiness to manufacture an approved Covid-19 vaccine locally.
“In anticipation of the huge demand, should a candidate vaccine be identified, manufacturing facilities will need to be established in different regions. The Southern African Development Community (SADC) and African continent region as a whole will need to be ready.”
Nzimande indicated that his department is also working on a number of other projects including:
- The development and production of local ventilators;
- The mass production of hand sanitiser;
- The mass production of 3d-printed face shields.
South Africa is also one of the participants in an experimental Covid-19 vaccine trial being conducted between AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford.
AstraZeneca is also well on its way to administering shots to 5,000 volunteers in a late-stage trial in Brazil and may scale up the size of its studies there, chief executive officer Pascal Soriot said Thursday in an interview with Bloomberg TV.
Subjects are being enrolled in South Africa, and a test in the US is about to begin, he said.
The AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine is among the leaders in the race to develop an immunization against the coronavirus pandemic that’s killed almost 670,000 people worldwide.
The UK drugmaker will sell the vaccine at cost during the crisis, and set a low price in poor and middle-income countries when the outbreak is under control, Soriot said.
Wealthier nations will have to pay more, he said.
“We intend to make a profit, but a reasonable profit, in the richer countries,” he said in the interview. “Our pricing will be appropriate, it will be reasonable, because we really want people to be able to get vaccinated.”
As of Thursday (30 July), there are now a total of 482,169 cases of coronavirus in South Africa. This is an increase of 11,046 cases from the 471,123 infections reported on Wednesday.
The data shows that there are 315 new Covid-19 related deaths, taking the total to 7,812 casualties.
A total of 309,601 recoveries have been reported to date. 2.9 million tests have been conducted, with 44,886 tests conducted over the past 24 hours, the minister said.