Billionaire offers R3bn to help SA develop vaccines

Patrick Soon-Shiong‚ a SA-American transplant surgeon‚ billionaire businessman‚ bioscientist‚ and media mogul‚ has offered R3bn to catalyse vaccine development capacity in the country and Africa‚ including development of second-generation Covid-19 vaccines.

This is according to Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus‚ director-general of the World Health Organisation‚ and the SA mission to the UN in Geneva.

The diplomatic service said Soon-Shiong’s corporation and philanthropic foundation “would commit an initial R3bn to SA to transfer the latest technology for producing vaccines and biological therapies”.

In March‚ Cape Town-based vaccine manufacturer Biovac announced it had formed a partnership with Soon-Shiong’s California-based cell and immunotherapy product manufacturer ImmunityBio to manufacture the US firm’s candidate Covid-19 vaccine.

The vaccine product is being tested in the form of a tablet which‚ according to Biovac CEO Morena Makhoana‚ will be a game changer as it will not have to be stored at the low temperatures of the injectable vaccines.

The ImmunityBio vaccine should be ready by early 2022.

Source: ARENA Holdings.