Cabinet hails SA-born billionaire's bid to boost local vaccine production

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Dr Patrick Soon-Shiong. Photo: Getty Images
Dr Patrick Soon-Shiong. Photo: Getty Images
  • Dr Patrick Soon-Shiong, a South African-American biotechnology entrepreneur, announced his commitment to the local production of vaccines in South Africa.
  • The National State of Disaster on Covid-19 was also extended until 15 June 2021 by Cabinet on Wednesday.
  • Cabinet said poor access to Covid-19 vaccination has affected most developing countries, particularly in Africa.



Cabinet has welcomed biotech billionaire Dr Patrick Soon-Shiong's R3 billion commitment to transfer technology for the production of vaccines and biological therapies to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic and South Africa's vaccination drive gaps.

Soon-Shiong, a South African-American biotechnology entrepreneur, announced his commitment to the local production of vaccines in South Africa before a meeting of the World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday.

Africa lags behind the developed world in terms of vaccination from the Covid-19 coronavirus, with as few as 2% of all vaccines administered globally having been administered on the African continent by early April, according to the WHO.

Cabinet, which also met on Wednesday when Soon-Shiong made the announcement, applauded the support of Soon-Shiong "and other philanthropists to equitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics".

The statement from Cabinet said poor access to Covid-19 vaccination has prevented the majority of developing countries, particularly in Africa, from making significant progress in the fight against Covid-19.

"Cabinet's view is that preventing nations from developing their own vaccines in the face of high mortality rate as a result of the coronavirus is morally indefensible," the Cabinet statement said.

Cabinet also welcomed the support of the US for the World Trade Organization (WTO) to waive Trade-related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) on Covid-19 vaccines after South Africa and India pushed for a waiver of arrangement to allow developing countries to freely produce vaccines.

"The waiver of TRIPS will enable access to technologies that will give impetus to the wider manufacturing of Covid-19 vaccines. The move has seen more than 100 countries, including China, supporting the effort to apply waivers to parts of the WTO's TRIPS," the statement said.

Cabinet also announced that the National State of Disaster on Covid-19 would be extended until 15 June 2021 in terms of Section 27(5)(c) of the Disaster Management Act.

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