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Africa to produce own vaccines


AFRICA has taken the first step to wean herself from a dependence on the west for vaccines for COVID-19 and other pandemics. 

A South African group – The Rubic Consortium – has signed a historic technology transfer and licensing agreement with Dyadic International with the aim of developing and commercializing vaccines throughout the African continent. 

The Rubic consortium is made up of Rubic was founded by a consortium of public health, medical, academia, vaccine technology, technology transfer and economic sector experts interested in addressing the region’s specific challenges related to vaccine availability and affordability. 

The implementation of the technologies introduced or developed will be led by a team of leading academics directed by the University of the Witwatersrand academic team, with the support of Wits Health Consortium, a wholly-owned company of Wits.

According to the agreement signed, the Rubic Consortium and Diyadic will:

  • Provide accessible and affordable vaccines to Africans,
  • stablish a vaccine research hub to leverage local scientific capability in the region,
  • Establish a vaccine manufacturing unit with the infrastructure, processing operations and capabilities for the manufacture and distribution of high-quality vaccines throughout the African continent.

In a statement, the Rubic Consortium and Wits Health said they were cognizant of the complexity of vaccine manufacturing in South Africa and other Africa countries and were adopting a pragmatic risk-based approach to vaccine security for Africa. 

The approach includes:

  • Completing an independent bankable feasibility study by the end of August 2021 to assess viability of our initiative,
  • Completing phase 2 and 3 clinical trials for the Dyadic C1 Covid-19 vaccine (DYAI-100),
  • Developing non-covid-19 vaccines off the C1 funal expression system,
  • Establishing appropriate skills transfer program,
  • Ensuring regulatory compliance, and
  • Local research and development of other vaccine candidates by our scientific team.
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The Rubic Consortium said South Africa and other African countries were heavily dependent on foreign vaccine production and technology transfer and have not adopted an integrated approach to vaccine research and development, manufacturing, and distribution. 

It said the problem statement was supported by:

  • The vaccine-delivery cycle elements being structured on a disparate basis,
  • Loss of efficiency as the vaccine value chain is far removed from patient populations, and
  • The dependence on foreign vaccine production and technology transfer
  • High price of vaccines (e.g. Pfizer covid-19 vaccine is above $22. We would like to produce the Dyadic covid-19 vaccine at one fifth of the price.

The project team has invested significant resources in a bankable feasibility study outsourced to a highly credible, internationally respected service provider. Basing the project on this thoroughly researched exercise will provide guidance and reduce risks in the rollout. The establishment of a Vaccine Research Hub – Participation of local universities and research units unlocks current local expertise in a collaborative effort. “This is a unique opportunity for institutions of higher learning to cooperate in research, drug development and clinical studies. The approach has various synergistic outcomes including the expansion of graduate programs to include vaccinology, increased research opportunities for graduates and will provide institutions with previously untapped revenue streams and equity in an innovative business initiative.
Innovative technologies and processes – Housing multiple and novel yet different vaccine development technologies in one unit using synergies of processes, expertise and resources is a unique strategy. 

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“The inclusion of a research component to the mix provides an exciting coalescence of development and manufacture. This provides the opportunity for cutting edge technologies to be converted into production rapidly. The project has engaged with novel technology transfer companies like Dyadic International, Incorporated to ensure rapid antigen production in a cost-effective manner with adopting various manufacturing modalities to rapidly scale up production,” the Rubic consortium said in a statement.

The consortium said its fully integrated vaccine model would fully integrate the following components:

  • Local research and development of vaccine candidates, which feeds into local manufacturing
  • Technology transfer agreements for innovative vaccine candidates,
  • Vaccine manufacturing and distribution
  • Best practices on vaccination administration (vaccine supply and cold chain management, pharmaceutical management and monitoring of vaccines, vaccinator efficiency and service delivery, and medical waste management) based on extensive experience managing workplace vaccination sites.
By The African Mirror