Biovac partners with Sanofi to produce six-in-one paediatric vaccine
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CAPE TOWN - The first vaccine to be produced in South Africa in two decades was launched by Biovac, a Cape Town public private partnership company that worked in partnership with France-based Sanofi Pasteur to produce the six-in-one paediatric vaccine, Hexaxim.
Dr Morena Makhoana said in an online presentation that the start of the production of some 4 million doses of the “”very complex” vaccine this month was the first time since the mid-1990s that any sterile manufacturing of human vaccines had been done in South Africa.
He said Biovac was in talks with developers of possible vaccines for Covid-19, to possibly produce these at Biovac, and this would not have been possible were it not for the manufacturing foundation that had been laid by the production of Hexaxim.
Hexaxim was the first liquid 6-in-one vaccine to ever be produced, and was introduced to the South African market through the Biovac partnership with Sanofi Pasteur in 2015, and more than 5 million infants have received the vaccine to date.
Biovac, since then, set about reverse engineering the vaccine, beginning initially with the packaging of the imported product. To provide an indication of the complexity of the vaccine, it requires more than 50 processes to be made, and each manufactured batch requires 1 277 individual tests for quality assurance.
The vaccine helps to prevent children from getting diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis B, poliomyelitis and Haemophilus influenzae type b. It also works against three strains of polio.
Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology Dr Blade Nzimande said the manufacturing would save the country R350 million a year that was previously spent to import the vaccine.
Nzimande said the benefits of a six-in-one vaccine in the South African context was that an infant would need about ten individual vaccinations to combat the equivalent diseases, which was uncomfortable for the child, it introduced the risk of anti-vaccine diseases, and it also brought additional risk of not taking all of the required vaccines.
BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE