Politics and Society
Botswana launches vaccine manufacturing plant
Botswana has launched the construction of a vaccine manufacturing plant. NantBotswana vaccine manufacturing plant will be focused on addressing the COVID-19 challenges and other ailments such as cancer.
Botswana has launched a vaccine manufacturing plant, joining only a few countries on the continent with plans to produce vaccines.
The Botswana factory is expected to open in 2026.
There have been calls by campaigners for African countries to have more vaccines produced on the continent as many countries still lag behind in the vaccination drive. Africa has received too few vaccines from the global supply of vaccines.
According to reports, Africa has only received approximately 540 million (approximately 6 percent of all COVID-19 vaccines, despite having about 17 percent of the world’s population). African countries have administered about 309 million doses and less than 10 percent of Africans are fully vaccinated.
In February 2021, Percy F Makombe, team leader for the Democracy and Governance cluster at the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa wrote that the debate on strengthening the local production of essential medicines has been raging on for some time and part of dealing with the monopolistic tendencies of big pharma requires the building of manufacturing capacity in developing countries.
The launch of a vaccine manufacturing plant in Botswana is indeed a positive step towards closing the critical gap in vaccine manufacturing.
President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi and founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NantWorks, Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong attended the launch ceremony.
Speaking during the ceremony, President Masisi said;
“The project is important to me personally, to be able to deliver on the promises that Government pledged to Batswana, particularly to drive the transformational development agenda of Botswana from a resource-based economy to a knowledge-based one as espoused in our National Vision 2036.”
Pres Masisi added that NantBotswana vaccine manufacturing plant was not only focused on addressing the COVID-19 challenges , but also other ailments affecting citizens such as cancer.
NantBotswana will work hand-in-hand with the Botswana Baylor Children’s Clinic on the shared goal of building global pharmaceutical production capacity with the introduction of the PULA Corbevax vaccine.
Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong said that their goal is to develop COVID-19 vaccines that kills the virus in the body to stop transmission and overcome every variants rather than the ones that only generate antibodies and block the virus and will be set up in Botswana.
Dr. Soon-Shiong further revealed that they aim to bring the Botswana Medicines Regulatory Authority (BoMRA) standard to the equivalent of Food and Drug Administration (FDA), due to its potential.
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