Pula Corbevax: Sub-Saharan Africa's first Covid-19 vaccine will be manufactured in Botswana

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  • Botswana received 100 million doses of Sub-Saharan Africa's first Covid-19 vaccine.
  • Dr Patrick Soon-Shiong says the vaccine is "active" against every Covid-19 variant.
  • President Masisi says his government is determined to dictate a new legacy associated with access to medicines.

Botswana received 100 million doses of Sub-Saharan Africa's first-ever Covid-19 vaccine - Pula Corbevax - which will eventually be manufactured on home soil.

"Pula", a Setswana word meaning "rain" or "blessing", is also the name of Botswana's currency.

READ | South Africa to dispose of 80 000 Covid-19 vaccines this week

The vaccine will be produced in Botswana by NantBotswana, a joint venture between the Botswana government and South Africa-born billionaire Dr Patrick Soon-Shiong's NantWorks.

In a tweet, Soon-Shiong said the vaccine was "a milestone reached, and one of the most satisfying experiences of my medical career".

Soon-Shiong spoke at the launch of the construction of the NantBotswana manufacturing plant on Tuesday.

He said: 

This vaccine called Pule Corbevax has been tested and shown to be active against every Covid-19 variant including omicron.

Developed by the Texas Children's Hospital Centre for Vaccine Development and Baylor College of Medicine in the United States, the vaccine is a protein sub-unit and patent-free.

This means it will be readily accessible and low-cost enough for poor states.

The vaccine is already approved for use in Bangladesh, India and Indonesia.

Speaking at the launch, Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi said the country was on to something that would change Africa's access to healthcare.

ALSO READ | Ghana to start producing own Covid-19 vaccines in January 2024

"We are determined to dictate a new legacy associated with access to medicines, vaccines, and other health technologies......it is, therefore, our intent, our conviction, that the opening of this vaccine manufacturing facility will go a long way in changing this narrative," he said.

But Botswana will have to wait until 2026 to manufacture the Covid-19 vaccine, and other vaccines and medicines for chronic illnesses, when the construction of the plant is finished.

The News24 Africa Desk is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation. The stories produced through the Africa Desk and the opinions and statements that may be contained herein do not reflect those of the Hanns Seidel Foundation.

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