Covid-19 vaccine could be made in SA, says President Cyril Ramaphosa

Mawande AmaShabalala Political journalist
President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the country on Wednesday night. He warned that unless care was taken, a 'surge' of cases was possible.
President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the country on Wednesday night. He warned that unless care was taken, a 'surge' of cases was possible.
Image: GCIS

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Wednesday night announced that Africa needed at least $12bn (about R187,5bn) to develop an effective vaccine to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Ramaphosa also revealed that at least two companies were working on developing a vaccine, which he hoped would first benefit South Africans.

This was part of a global effort to find a solution to defeat the virus once and for all.

However, he said it was desirable for whichever country developed a vaccine first to share it with the rest of the world,

“An effective and safe vaccine is our greatest defence against Covid-19 and there are now several candidate vaccines in development across the world.

“Equitable access to an effective vaccine is vital to the successful containment of this pandemic. Earlier this week, the world witnessed a game-changer in the world of science regarding the development of a vaccine. This is the first evidence that an effective vaccine against a coronavirus is possible,” he said.

The continent, Ramaphosa added, must pin its hopes on the work being done in SA to develop one.

Said Ramaphosa: “South Africa is collaborating with several multinational pharmaceutical companies to obtain a safe and effective vaccine for our people, and is contributing towards the availability of the vaccine on the rest of the continent.

FULL ADDRESS | Ramaphosa addresses SA on Covid-19 developments

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President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation on on Wednesday and emphasised the interventions that must continue if South Africa is to contain the spread of Covid-19. He extended the national state of disaster and warned South Africans to avoid large gatherings over the festive season. A five day period of mourning was also announced for those who died from Covid-19.

“We are working through the African Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) to acquire and fund a vaccine for the African continent. It is estimated that Africa will need about $12bn and 750 million doses of an effective vaccine.”

The president said it was testament to the country's “manufacturing capability” that Johnson & Johnson had entered into a preliminary agreement with a local company, Aspen Pharmacare, to “manufacture and package its candidate vaccine”.

“Aspen has capacity to manufacture 300 million doses of the candidate vaccine at its Nelson Mandela Bay plant. This is life-saving medical product that will be needed across the world, which will be manufactured by South African workers.

“This is in addition to the progress made by Biovac, a local biopharmaceutical company that is in partnership with the South African government. Biovac is in advanced discussion with an international vaccine manufacturer that would also enable it to locally manufacture a Covid-19 vaccine to ensure sufficient supply for our country and the continent,” Ramaphosa said.

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