Thursday, January 20, 2022

New COVID-19 Vaccine Facility in Cape Town Pledges One Billion Vaccines for Africa

Phot via Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

Cape Town will soon be home to a mass vaccination site for COVID-19 thanks to the donations of biotech billionaire, Patrick Soon-Shiong. The NantSA founder pledged to produce one billion vaccines for the African continent by 2025. 

The first round of vaccines from the new Centre for Epidemic Response and Innovation facility is expected to be completed by the end of the year. The center will officially open later this year as the largest genomics facility on the continent.  

The new facility is expected to cost around R3 billion.

Soon-Shiong along with President Cyril Ramaphosa, launched the Coalition to Accelerate Africa's Access to Advanced Healthcare (AAH) on Wednesday. The coalition and NantSA aims to improve domestic production of a variety of vaccines including tuberculosis, HIV, cancer and COVID-19. 

At the ceremonial opening of the clinic, Ramaphosa said he hopes the facility will help propel the Western Cape and all of South Africa into a new era of biotech advancements and innovations. 

The launch of the center comes after it was announced in September that NantSA signed a collaboration agreement with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research to improve COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing in the region. 

Soon-Shiong has donated money to biotech development centers in the past including the Centre for Epidemic Response and Innovation. The billionaire's support also supported institutes for infectious disease research at University of Cape Town, University of the Witwatersrand and Stellenbosch University.  

Ramaphosa said the new facility is exciting because it will allow Africa to no longer rely on western nations for vaccines or scientific knowledge.  

By Ben Rappaport

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