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IFC partners with South Africa’s Biovac to expand vaccine manufacturing in Africa

IFC partners with South Africa’s Biovac to expand vaccine manufacturing in Africa

To support increased vaccine production, and enhance pandemic preparedness in Africa, IFC announced an investment and advisory support package for Biovac, a leading South African biopharmaceutical company.

IFC's $7million-rand equivalent loan will support Biovac's existing production of a range of vaccines including HPV, meningococcal disease, cholera, and various pediatric vaccines.

In addition to the loan, IFC has signed a collaboration agreement with Biovac to provide project development support for the pharmaceutical company's plans to build a new multi-vaccine production plant in Cape Town.

The new plant will enable Biovac to ramp up its production capacity from a current 150 million doses to about 560 million vaccine doses annually. The financing will also help Biovac to develop local capacity for producing traditional bacterial-based vaccines as well as messenger RNA (mRNA)–based vaccines, bolstering African vaccine value chains, and helping reduce the continent's dependence on vaccine imports. 

"We are thrilled to have secured our partnership with IFC," said Biovac's chief financial officer, Craig Mitchell. "This collaboration epitomizes the type of support needed on the continent, to ensure focus not only on fill-finish capabilities and capacities, but also critically to advance research and development, drug substance, and ultimately to enable end-to-end manufacturing in Africa. We look forward to expanding the partnership with IFC towards realizing the establishment of a large-scale facility capable of producing multiple vaccines on different platforms."

"Africa produces only a small fraction of the vaccines it needs and IFC is supporting efforts to expand production on the continent, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic," said Cláudia Conceição, IFC's Regional Director for Southern Africa. "IFC's investment in Biovac will not only contribute to the growth of Biovac's vaccine manufacturing capacity but also play a crucial role in advancing the development of the vaccine industry on the continent."

Biovac is one of the few vaccine companies in Africa with product development capabilities. It currently supplies about 80 percent of South Africa's routine pediatric vaccines and since 2003 has delivered over 450 million vaccine doses to public hospitals, clinics, and depots in South Africa, Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, and Namibia.

IFC's investment will enable Biovac to strengthen its balance sheet and manufacturing capabilities, ahead of its overall plans to raise additional capital for its expansion strategy. IFC's investment is aligned with its broader effort to support vaccine production in Africa and strengthen Africa's healthcare sector.

IFC announced its first partnership with Biovac in 2022, as part of a consortium of nine development finance institutions. The partnership was aimed at financing the expansion of Biovac's vaccine manufacturing capacity and enabling the production of the COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines.

IFC — a member of the World Bank Group — is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. We work in more than 100 countries, using our capital, expertise, and influence to create markets and opportunities in developing countries. In fiscal year 2023, IFC committed a record $43.7 billion to private companies and financial institutions in developing countries, leveraging the power of the private sector to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity as economies grapple with the impacts of global compounding crises.

Biovac is a leading biotechnology company in Africa, committed to protecting life through the development, end-to-end manufacture, and global supply of vaccines and other biologicals.

During its inception it has been able to build critical biotechnology skills, attract and execute three fill-finish technology transfers from multinational organizations whilst building product development capability.

It aims to be an end-to-end African vaccine manufacturer through its current product development programs of (1) developing an oral cholera vaccine as well as (2) being part of the WHO mRNA Hub program.


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