Biotech billionaire Soon-Shiong to back cancer, Covid-19 vaccines in SA

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Patrick Soon-Shiong. (Darren McCollester, AFP)
Patrick Soon-Shiong. (Darren McCollester, AFP)

South African-born biotech billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong will announce a plan to transfer technology for the manufacture of Covid-19 and cancer vaccines to the country.

The California-based entrepreneur will make the announcement at 5 pm local time on Thursday with President Cyril Ramaphosa, the presidency said in a statement.

Soon-Shiong’s NantWorks LLC has signed a collaboration agreement with the South African government’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, the South African Medical Research Council and the Centre for Epidemic Response and Innovation.

Three local universities are also party to the agreement. 

Soon-Shiong, who has a net worth of $11 billion according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, was born in the coastal town of Gqeberha. He made his fortune after inventing cancer drug Abraxane in the US and has sold two firms for a combined $7.4 billion. His assets include the Los Angeles Times newspaper and a share of the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team.

His ImmunityBio Inc. company is conducting trials of its Covid-19 vaccine in South Africa and has held talks with Cape Town’s Biovac Institute to potentially set up vaccine production facilities in the country.

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