South Africa: Why South Africa Stopped Making Vaccines


The high demand for Covid vaccines means there are limited global supplies. Local manufacturing is one potential solution to this problem. So why isn't South Africa making its own jabs?

Adèle Sulcas writes about global health and food systems, and worked previously at the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and malaria, and the World Health Organization. She is former editor of the Global Fund Observer.

South Africa is one of only a handful of African countries -- the others are Egypt, Ethiopia, Morocco, Senegal and Tunisia -- with at least some capability to make vaccines.

Yet our country is producing next to none.

South Africa, for instance, has world-class local vaccine-production facilities in the form of the Cape Town-based company, Biovac, which was created in 2003 in partnership with the government as a way to "establish local vaccine manufacturing capability".

And although Biovac is putting a process in place to produce the pharmaceutical company, Sanofi Pasteur's six-in-one jab, Hexaxim, as well as Pfizer's Prevnar 13, it has not yet produced any vaccine from start to finish in two decades of existence. (Hexaxim protects children against diseases such as hepatitis B, polio, tetanus and whooping cough and Prevnar 13 prevents...

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