IFC backs Biovac with $7m to expand vaccine manufacturing in Africa
The International Finance Corporation (IFC) has invested in Biovac, a prominent biopharmaceutical company in South Africa. The $7 million equivalent loan from the corporation will aid Biovac in expanding its existing production of various vaccines, including those for HPV, meningococcal disease, cholera, and pediatric vaccines.
Additionally, IFC and Biovac have entered into a collaboration agreement to offer project development support for Biovac's plans to construct a new multi-vaccine production plant in Cape Town. The new facility is expected to significantly increase Biovac's production capacity from the current 150 million doses to around 560 million vaccine doses annually.
The financing and collaboration with IFC will also facilitate Biovac's development of local capabilities for manufacturing traditional bacterial-based vaccines and messenger RNA (mRNA)–based vaccines. This initiative aims to strengthen African vaccine value chains and reduce the continent's reliance on vaccine imports, contributing to increased vaccine production and pandemic preparedness in Africa.
At the outset of the recent global pandemic, Africa, like other poorer regions, was left without adequate vaccine supplies, highlighting the need to develop its production. The continent imports more than 70% of all the medicines it needs, gulping $14 billion per year. Bolstering local capacity should serve as a major boost to the health prospects of a region that has been battered for decades by the burden of several diseases and pandemics such as Covid-19, but with very limited capacity to produce its medicines and vaccines. Biovac is one of the few vaccine companies in Africa with product development capabilities. It reportedly supplies about 80% of South Africa's routine pediatric vaccines and since 2003 has delivered over 450 million vaccine doses to public hospitals, clinics, and depots in South Africa, Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, and Namibia.