Director for Health Innovation at the Department of Science and Innovation, Glaudina Loots has said bringing in “full vaccine manufacturing capabilities to any country is not something that you can do in a year or two; actually, you will need to invest in a period of at least seven years of intense building of the facilities and capacity”.
Assessing South Africa’s capabilities when it came to vaccine production, Loots said South Africa was able to conduct Research and Development, preclinical toxicology and that “we are excellent at clinical trials”, using the capacity initially used for HIV and tuberculosis.
Loots said that the government had invested in research funding at the University of Cape Town and the University of Witwatersrand and that it had expertise in places such as Onderstepoort and the National Bioproducts Institute. The challenge, she said, was to bring all this expertise together to enable the local manufacturing of vaccines. Loots projected that South Africa was about three years from being capable of making its own vaccines.
This comes as the country records 1,637,848 cases of Covid-19 of which 55,874 proved fatal and 1,541,250 resulted in recovery while 642,946 vaccinations have been administered.