Home » South African billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong partners Biovac to produce COVID-19 vaccines

South African billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong partners Biovac to produce COVID-19 vaccines

by Editorial Team

The year 2020 was difficult the world over. The global grip of the COVID-19 pandemic began in March and a second wave of the virus struck Europe in December. As scientists scrambled for vaccines, the international community was kept nervously on its toes. 

By December 2020, the World Health Organization approved emergency validation for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. By February, it listed two more vaccines for urgent use. 

But the challenge then became how to distribute the vaccines in a streamlined manner to the world’s more than 6 billion population, and especially in Africa, where South Africa has been the hardest hit. This is where the partnership between the U.S.-based South African-born billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong and a local biopharmaceutical company comes in.     

On March 18, 2021, Cape Town-based biopharmaceutical company Biovac announced a partnership with Soon-Shiong’s ImmunityBio, an immunotherapy company based in the United States, to manufacture its second-generation COVID-19 vaccine in South Africa. 

The partnership will bring the vaccine and numerous others to South Africa and its neighbors and speed up delivery processes. It will also create a technology transfer to build Biovac’s capacity for active pharmaceutical ingredient manufacturing.  

According to Money Web, Soon-Shiong said: “In addition to working with local researchers in clinical development, I am equally pleased to commence work with Biovac, which is the only specialist vaccine company in South Africa. This gives us the confidence that South African manufacturing capability is at an equally high standard to its global counterparts and has the potential to respond more fully to future pandemics.”

Money Web also quoted Biovac CEO Morena Makhoana as saying: “This collaboration with ImmunityBio is a strategic step in our quest for fully-fledged vaccine manufacturing capability in Africa.” He added that: “These collaborations are a significant stepping stone to addressing the gap in Africa of self-reliance and pandemic response capability.”

Soon-Shiong is a South African-U.S. billionaire businessman, transplant surgeon, bioscientist and media proprietor. He is the inventor of Abraxane, a drug known for its efficacy against lung, breast and pancreatic cancer.

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