SPOTLIGHT ON SCIENCE: Pandemic leaves behind positive legacy - biotech funding

Vaccine manufacturing in Africa - NANSTa

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit it exposed the fragile health services across the continent. The absence of vaccines and lagging vaccination rates make the continent an outlier on the road to recovery. As of this year, however, Africa is one step closer to becoming self-reliant in the response to coronavirus and other diseases.

South African-born scientist and philanthropist, Dr Patrick Soon-Shiong and President Cyril Ramaphosa opened a vaccine manufacturing facility in Brackenfell, Cape Town in January. 

Africa's Access to Advanced Healthcare (AAAH) partnership with NANT-SA aims to manufacture a billion doses of the COVID-19 vaccine by 2025. This represents only around half of what the Continent needs to vaccinate 900 million people in order to achieve the 70% target set by the WHO. The launch of this facility will contribute significantly to the continent’s ecosystem for manufacturing capacity.

Like many lower-income countries, Africa has been procuring vaccines at a much slower rate and higher cost than European countries. South Africa is leading the process of collaboration at the AU level for vaccine manufacturing but the approach to self-reliance in this regard is pan-African.

Here’s what you may not know about NANSTa

  • This facility will be the first of its kind in Africa to manufacture COVID-19 vaccines from start to finish
  • First drug substance predicted to be produced within the year
  • Expansions are planned in Botswana, Uganda, Kenya, and Ghana
  • Other clinical trials being pursued include those for TB, HIV, Cancer (pancreatic, bladder, breast cancer) HPV