Africa should no longer be the last in line to access vaccines against pandemics. Africa should no longer go, hat in hand, to the Western world, begging and begging for vaccines 

President Ramaphosa addressed the crowd during the launch of the first-ever new vaccine manufacturing campus. Part of the gathering were government representatives from South Africa,biotech industry,accademics.

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South Africa flag with Coronavirus Covid-19 concept. Doctor with blue protection medical gloves holding a vaccine bottle. Epidemic Virus, Cov-19, Corona virus outbreaking.

The launch of Nant SA vaccine manufacturing campus in South Africa it wasn’t only a history making in Africa as the first,facility in Africa where vaccines will be produced from sratch. It has also given hope to the African continent that it will become first in line . When vaccines are manufactured in South Africa.

Previously African leaders ,World Health Organisation and scientist have castigated , Western Governments for buying COVID 19 vaccines in bulk and more than their population needs. Africa has less vaccinated people, compared to Europe.

According to Sortia Part research:

List Vaccinated Countries in Africa :

1:Eriteria hasn’t vaccinated any of their citizens.

2:Burundi vaccinated 0;05%

3:DRC  has vaccinated 0;34 %

Top vaccinated countries in Africa:

1: Seychelles 84;83%

2: Mauritania 73;5%

3:Morocco 66;97%

*Note this update was done in January 19 

Africa has failed to vaccinate it’s citizens not only due to lack of acquiring vaccines only. However among the factors include: lack of knowledge, disbelief,poor road infastructure in terms of roads has also contribute .

African governments in the past have been blamed by their citizens and also by the Western Countries for not building roads for their communities especially in remote areas. Poor roads has caused, poor communication .

Health workers are not able to reach other places as the roads will be cut off. Some people believe ,Covid 19 has exposed the neglection that has been made by the African governments.

However through technology people are able to use mobile phones to communicate and television in addition internet to educate people.

In other countries such as Zimbabwe and South Africa. Some of their citizens had no knowledge about the vaccines that they were being vaccinated with and why they had to take two shoots of vaccines? They also had no idea on how effective was each vaccine.

The conflict between science and traditional belief also keeps playing a huge role in Africa. Africa has a population of 62.9% who are followers of  African Traditional Religion.

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Most of the followers of the A.T.R they don’t believe in Scientist’s vaccines. This has made it difficult for African Heads of State to convince their citizens about the importance of vaccination.

Some African’s  believe that there is no existence of Covid 19 pandemic it’s just flue,that can be treated through traditional herbs. South African President is among the leaders is Africa who have echoed about the disadvantage that Europe has contributed in Africa’s lack of vaccinated.

“The long standing in-equities in vaccine development and access have been thrown into sharp relief by the course of the Covid 19 pandemic.

“Now more than ever, South Africa supports vaccine manufacturing in Africa to ensure that the continent becomes self-sufficient and sheds “those Colonia chains” that have previously bound it,”said President Ramaphosa.

President Ramaphosa delivered these words at the launch of the Nant South Africa’s vaccine manufacturing at Brackengate on the 19th of January.

Stating out that the continent will be able to depend on themselves.

Nant South Africa, along with NantAfrica and Nant Botswana, was established in 2021 to participate in a coalition of organisations for the advancement of health in Africa. Their founder, the billionaire scientist and NantWorks CEO Dr Patrick Soon-Shiong, described the launch of the vaccine facility as one of the most momentous moments of his life and a “homecoming”. Soon-Shiong was born in Port Elizabeth, and trained in South Africa before emigrating to the US.  (Source Aljazerra).

The event also marked the launch of the Africa’s Access to Advanced Healthcare Coalition. The coalition is a collaboration between biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, government agencies, non-profit organisations and academia to enable domestic production of pharmaceuticals, biologics and vaccines in South Africa, according to the coalition’s information booklet. 

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“I think the guiding principle [of Africa’s Access to Advanced Healthcare Coalition] is, from compassion and collaboration comes change. So, I want to share with you today not aspirations, but actual action,” said Soon-Shiong.(source BBC News) 

One of Africa’s Access to Advanced Healthcare Coalition’s aims is to see the new Nant South Africa facility produce a billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines by 2025, with Soon-Shiong expressing his hope that the first doses will be completed within a year. 

“So that’s why we’re moving at lightning speed. The architectural design has already been completed,” he said, adding that the development of the facility will cost at least R3-billion as “the ambition is large”. 

Soon-Shiong estimated that between 400 and 600 South Africans would be employed at the facility to ensure the manufacturing of a billion vaccine doses, from drug substance to finished product​​. The Nant South Africa campus will be the first facility on the African continent to produce vaccines from scratch, as opposed to other facilities where the drug substance is manufactured elsewhere and brought to the region for “fill and finish”, said Ramaphosa. 

Global health organisations have indicated that Covid-19 will more than likely not be the last global health threat, said Nzimande. As such, he said, the South African government believes that it is important to better prepare for a future marked by new kinds of zoonotic and climate-driven health threats.

“This requires massive public and private investment in a whole range of predictive diagnostic surveillance that is equipped in health management capabilities. In addition to averting the next public health disaster, such initiatives will also make it possible to address neglected diseases that have plagued Africa for centuries, such as, for example, malaria and tuberculosis,” said Nzimande. 

The focus of Africa’s Access to Advanced Healthcare Coalition is on the production of “second-generation” vaccines, not only for Covid-19, but for other diseases that plague the African continent, according to Soon-Shiong. 

“We have now developed this S+N T-cell vaccine as a second-generation [Covid-19] vaccine, and we want to manufacture this in Africa for Africa, and export it to the world,” he said. 

Work is currently ongoing to have the new vaccine approved under Food and Drug Administration and European Union standards, said Soon-Shiong.  

“We’re doing the same trials in the United States. We’re also about to launch trials in Australia, trials in Botswana, and a trial here in South Africa,” he added.(source BBC News)

“I’m working very closely with Sahpra [the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority], and it’s important not only for Sahpra to approve it, but for us to get it at a standard level so that it could be exported… because our goal is to build a sustainable industry, not a product.” (source BBC News)

The development of a robust biotechnology and life sciences industry in South Africa not only requires the cooperation of scientists, but that of technicians and those holding bachelor’s and master’s degrees, as well as PhDs, said Soon-Shiong. 

As such, the Chan Soon-Shiong Family Foundation has committed R100-million to “educate and create a skilled workforce to work anywhere in the country”, he said. Together with Gray and the Medical Research Council of South Africa, as well as the universities of Cape Town, Witwatersrand, Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth, the foundation aims to create a “solid programme”. 

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Many young Africans will benefit from the R100-million endowment that the foundation has committed to the training of a skilled workforce in the biotechnology and life sciences fields, said Ramaphosa. (source SABC News)

Tapiwa Rubaya

Tapiwa Rubaya is the current affairs, fashion and sports reporter at My Afrika Magazine.

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