The COVAX scheme aims to deliver 2 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccine by the end of 2021. Cepi is reserving capacity with vaccine manufacturers worldwide so that goal can be met.
SA has submitted a non-binding confirmation of intent to participate in the scheme.
Makhoana said Biovac could not make “live virus” vaccines at this stage, precluding some vaccines being trailed in SA in partnership with Oxford University and Johnson & Johnson. He declined to name the companies Biovac was speaking to.
The department of science and innovation, the ministry that manages the government’s stake in Biovac, supports its ambitions because it wants to stimulate local manufacturing and limit the impact of vaccine procurement on the country’s balance of payments, director-general Phil Mjwara said.
Currently the South African government buys about 95% of the vaccines supplied annually by Biovac, covering diseases such as tuberculosis, cervical cancer and influenza, with the rest sold to countries in the rest of Africa.
In the past Biovac has partnered with companies like Pfizer and Sanofi.