Biovac signs partnerships for new polio, meningitis and cholera vaccine at launch of $1bn AVMA

South African biopharmaceutical manufacturer, Biovac. Henk Kruger/Independent Newspapers.

South African biopharmaceutical manufacturer, Biovac. Henk Kruger/Independent Newspapers.

Published Jun 21, 2024


South African biopharmaceutical manufacturer, Biovac, has announced a new manufacturing partnership with global biopharmaceutical company, Sanofi, as well as a new technology transfer partnership with South Korean-based vaccine manufacturer, EuBiologics.

In the first agreement, Biovac yesterday entered into a new manufacturing partnership with Sanofi, one of the largest producers of Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV), for the local production of IPV by Biovac.

IPV is a key vaccine that is utilised against the poliomyelitis disease, especially on the African continent.

This will mark the second manufacturing partnership with Sanofi, the first being for a hexavalent vaccine that Biovac currently produces in South Africa.

Biovac also announced the finalisation of a technology transfer agreement with Eubiologics for a fully liquid Meningococcal Pentavalent Conjugate Vaccine.

The two companies entered a Memorandum of Understanding in September 2023, and met on the sidelines of the African Vaccine Manufacturing Accelerator (AVMA) launch to sign an agreement that will enable a technology transfer of the vaccine.

This vaccine is unique in its presentation and is much needed in the African Meningitis Belt which spans Senegal in the West to Ethiopia in the East where there are unique circulating serotypes particularly, serotype X.

The two announcements come on the back of significant progress made by Biovac in the development of an Oral Cholera Vaccine, which will enable it to be an end-to-end vaccine manufacturer.

In support, one of the most significant announcements was the French President’s pledge of €10 million (R192m) to Biovac towards accelerating the time to market this critical vaccine.

The three projects aim to increase vaccine manufacturing of these vaccines on African soil, thus filling a significant gap in the current prevention and treatment of related diseases and outbreaks on the continent.

These announcements were made while Biovac was attending the Global Forum for Vaccine Sovereignty and Innovation, hosted by France, alongside the African Union and Gavi, at which Gavi’s innovative financing instrument, the African Vaccine Manufacturing Accelerator (AVMA) was launched.

The AVMA is designed to disburse up to $1 billion to African vaccine manufacturers over the next 10 years, with the aim of reducing the cost of manufacture on the continent in the medium term

Biovac CEO, Dr. Morena Makhoana, said AVMA was a key enabler to vaccine manufacturing sustainability on the African continent and Biovac was ready to be a key contributor to its success.

“It offers a unique opportunity to accelerate vaccine manufacturing capability building by African vaccine developers and manufacturers,” Makhoana said.

“Our latest manufacturing partnership and technology transfer project announcements, as well as progress on our current Oral Cholera Vaccine development project, positions Biovac well in the African continent’s quest for vaccine manufacturing self-sufficiency.”

Sanofi executive vice president, Thomas Triomphe, said they had supplied billions of polio vaccine doses globally, supporting the world in getting close to polio eradication.

“But with the COVID-19 pandemic, many routine pediatric vaccination programs were halted or disrupted. Catching up will be key to preventing a rise in cases in many countries worldwide and this Sanofi partnership with Biovac is a step in that direction,” Triomphe said.

“Establishing this manufacturing partnership now, ahead of time, is key to enabling Biovac’s manufacturing capabilities for future international tenders.”

Dr. Baik Yeong-ok, EuBiologics CEO, said: “This will be a good model of the collaboration between the two companies, and I am hopeful that this will lead to an improvement in global public health, capacity building of an African manufacturer, and most importantly to impact on people’s lives against meningococcal diseases in Africa.”