South Africa: EIB to support increased vaccine production by Biovac

(Source: European Investment Bank)

  • Preparatory work to outline production investment and determine regional vaccine needs backed by European Union
  • Expected EUR 175 million investment to scale up drug and vaccine development and manufacturing at Biovac Cape Town plant
  • New investment to enable manufacturing 500 million doses a year and strengthen vaccine production during future pandemics

The European Investment Bank, in close cooperation with the European Union, is planning to support large-scale investment by South Africa’s specialist human vaccine manufacturer Biovac to increase development and manufacturing of vaccines and enable a quicker response to future pandemics. The EIB’s first support for vaccine investment in South Africa is expected to increase annual production capacity at Biovac’s Cape Town plant to 500 million doses, enable manufacturing of viral and bacterial targeted vaccines and strengthen resilience to future pandemics in Africa.

Agreements to prepare detailed feasibility studies, finance preparatory works and commission detailed designs of the expanded vaccine production facility, to be financed by EUR 15 million European Union grant support, have been concluded by Biovac, the European Union and European Investment Bank.

This is a key step to enable new investment at the Biovac facility in the coming years, expected to exceed EUR 175 million and backed by South African and international financing partners.

“Africa remains highly vulnerable to vaccine preventable diseases and to both the current COVID pandemic  as well as future ones as well. Scaling up local vaccine development and manufacturing capacity is crucial to enable a quicker and more effective response to future health crises. The new EIB and EU support for feasibility studies and preparatory works will maximise the impact of large-scale investment at Biovac’s pioneering Cape Town plant and enable Africa to host a world-class international vaccine manufacturing facility. This is a key milestone in ensuring that that South Africa has the required vaccine manufacturing capacity to respond to both local and regional needs.” said Dr Morena Makhoana, Chief Executive Officer at Biovac

“The European Investment Bank is working with experienced partners across Africa and around the world to improve health security and develop vaccines. The EIB is pleased to back preparation of large-scale investment by Biovac to transform Africa’s vaccine production capacity and strengthen resilience to future pandemics. The European Union’s grant support will accelerate technical and production preparations for future investment to enable 500 million doses a year to be produced by Biovac in South Africa ” said Ambroise Fayolle, European Investment Bank Vice President.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted both the importance of a rapid response to a pandemic and local vaccine production capabilities to ensure equitable access to vaccines. The European Union is pleased to support future investment by Biovac through an unprecedented early stage EUR 15 million grant support for project preparation and technical design, under the Infrastructure Investment Programme for South Africa. EU support for Biovac demonstrates how South African, European and international partners are joining forces to strengthen resilience to future pandemics in Africa,” said Dr. Riina Kionka, European Union Ambassador to South Africa.

Biovac is a bio-pharmaceutical company, based in Cape Town, that is the result of a partnership formed with the South African government in 2003 to establish local vaccine manufacturing capability for the provision of vaccines for national health management and security.

EIB support for vaccine production across Africa

The European Investment Bank is working with partners in South Africa, Senegal, Rwanda and Ghana to unlock large-scale investment to improve local vaccine development and production capacity to better respond to existing and future pandemics.

The European Investment Bank is the world’s largest international public bank, owned directly by the 27 European Union member states and has been active in Africa since 1965.

The EIB is increasing targeted support for health investment and has provided EUR 1.7 billon for health investment across the continent.

Since the pandemic EIB has provided more than EUR 8 billion for private and public investment across Africa.

Background information

EIB Global is the EIB Group’s new specialised arm dedicated to increasing the impact of international partnerships and development finance.  EIB Global is designed to foster strong, focused partnership within Team Europe, alongside fellow development finance institutions, and civil society. EIB Global brings the Group closer to local people, companies and institutions through our offices across the world.

About Biovac

Biovac was established in 2003 to revive local human vaccine production in Southern Africa. Alongside the development of the local vaccine industry, through steep investment in local skills and modern facilities, the company has secured high profile technology transfers from international pharmaceutical companies including Pfizer and Sanofi Pasteur for the manufacturing of paediatric vaccines. The company currently supplies a comprehensive range of vaccines in support of the South African Department of Health’s Expanded Programme for Immunisation. In addition to supplying millions of doses of vaccines per year, across South Africa and into some neighbouring countries, Biovac has been distributing COVID-19 vaccines in South Africa under various temperature conditions. Biovac has recently entered into partnership with Pfizer and BioNTech to manufacture their Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine for distribution within the African Union.

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