Picture: Nhlanhla Phillips/African News Agency/ANA

Johannesburg - BRICS bloc countries have given South Africa the nod for a state-of-the-art vaccine centre to be established in the country.

President Cyril Ramphosa on Friday afternoon announced that leaders from Brazil, China, India and Russia had all agreed that the centre is based in SA.

Ramaphosa said the country was extremely pleased with this decision by the international community.

The vaccine centre, which will be based in Johannesburg, is set to give BRICS-affiliated countries and those on the African continent a platform for thorough research to be conducted in order to tackle the burden of diseases that continue to plague developing countries.

According to Rampahosa’s spokesperson Khusela Diko, the BRICS leaders began discussing the creation of this vaccine centre following the Ebola outbreak in Western Africa in 2014.

Speaking on the sidelines shortly after Ramphosa’s press conference which wrapped up the Summit, Diko said: “While we have cooperation at an economic, political and security and people-to-people level, at the end of the day we have health at the core of these issues and they needed to find a way where BRICS is adequately capacitated to respond to such challenges.”

She added: “Work has already started in terms of setting it up and we are looking at a wide variety of issues. There are only things unique to our regions and we’ll be looking at developing vaccines around those so it is a work in progress.”

It is yet unclear how much has been set aside for the vaccine centre and whether the BRICS development bank will fund this project.

Meanwhile, Ramaphosa also announced that the leaders had also discussed ways of how a series of BRICS-related projects can be run.

This, he said, includes the establishment of a BRICS Women’s Forum which will assist in eradicating challenges affected by many women in these regions, a BRICS film festival and possibly an annual BRICS football challenge – cultural activities Ramaphosa said would benefit the countries and boost tourism.“BRICS is not just a talk shop… it is a forum alive with many innovative ideas,” he said.

Political Bureau