South Africa: Department of Higher Education Pumps R68 Million Into Covid-19 Research and Vaccine Development

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The Department of Higher Education has invested more than R68m into Covid-19 research and vaccine development. A further R25m has been allocated to the KwaZulu-Natal Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform (Krisp) to combat SARS-CoV-2 variants.

The Department of Higher Education, Science and Innovation has invested R68,766,000 towards Covid-19 research and development activities.

Speaking at a press briefing on the latest developments in the post-school sector on Monday, Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande said the funding had been reprioritised from the 2019/20 and 2020/21 Budget allocations.

"These funds were approved to support Covid-19 research and development in the areas of diagnostics, therapeutics, vaccines, surveillance and epidemiology, including genomic epidemiology," said the minister.

The department is funding two vaccine-related studies.

The first is looking into plant-based manufacturing of antibodies for Covid-19, whose aims include speeding up vaccine development.

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has entered into an agreement with Kentucky Biological Products (KBP) to potentially manufacture the antigen of its vaccine and has expressed an interest in testing its vaccine in South Africa. The KBP vaccine is manufactured using specific tobacco products. R2.4-million has been invested into this initiative.

The second is the Oxford Covid-19 vaccine trial...

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