Ramaphosa: New vaccine hub will move Africa into a new health science era

President Cyril Ramaphosa and South African-born biotech billionaire, Doctor Patrick Soon-Shiong, launched the NantSA facility in Cape Town on Wednesday.

President Cyril Ramaphosa visits the Chan Soon-Shiong Centre for Epidemic Response and Innovation at the University of Stellenbosch on 19 January 2022. Picture: @CyrilRamaphosa/Twitter.

CAPE TOWN - President Cyril Ramaphosa said that a local COVID-19 vaccine production hub held the promise of propelling Africa into a new era of health science.

The president and South African-born biotech billionaire, Doctor Patrick Soon-Shiong, launched the NantSA facility in Cape Town on Wednesday.

The campus is a division of Soon-Shiong’s multinational US conglomerate NantWorks and will focus on the production of second-generation COVID-19 vaccines as well as cancer vaccines.

President Ramaphosa said the African continent should now rely on its own wealth of scientific knowledge of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We will stand on our own. This we are determined to do and this facility is proof of that," he said.

Doctor Patrick Soon-Shiong explained that unless a vaccine was developed that stopped coronavirus transmission, the pandemic would not end.

"We think within the first six months of completion of the first cleaner, we will do this in modules, and we hope that within the year first substance will be produced in this facility," Soon-Shiong said.

By 2025, this site hopes to churn out at least one billion COVID-19 vaccine doses a year.

Soon-Shiong said that estimated costs to construct the facility amounted to around R3 billion.

WATCH: SA vaccine plant unveiled in Cape Town