SOUTH AFRICA — South African biopharmaceutical manufacturer, Biovac, has recently inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the renowned South Korean-based manufacturer, EuBiologics.

This strategic collaboration is set to facilitate the technology transfer necessary for the production of a Meningococcal Meningitis pentavalent conjugate vaccine.

This development marks a significant milestone for Biovac, as it paves the way for the local manufacturing and distribution of a vital vaccine, one that holds the potential to save countless lives across the African continent.

Meningococcal meningitis, a bacterial form of meningitis, is a severe infection that affects the delicate lining surrounding the brain and spinal cord.

It poses a grave threat, with an overall case-fatality ratio ranging from 10% to 15% even when appropriate antibiotic therapy is administered.

In the invasive form of the disease, known as meningococcemia, this ratio can skyrocket to a staggering 50%.

Additionally, up to 20% of survivors face long-term clinical consequences, including hearing loss, neurological impairments, or limb loss.

The scourge of meningococcal meningitis knows no borders, yet different regions of the world grapple with various circulating serotypes.

The most pressing need for intervention is concentrated in the “meningitis belt” of sub-Saharan Africa, spanning from Senegal in the west to Ethiopia in the east, where new circulating serotypes, such as serotype X, have emerged.

Morena Makhoana, the CEO of Biovac, emphasizes the critical nature of this endeavor, stating, “This Meningococcal vaccine candidate, currently in clinical development and planned for local production in Africa, is of immense importance. It safeguards against the circulating serotypes relevant to our continent.

“Furthermore, it will be a fully liquid vaccine, designed for ease of use. We are particularly thrilled to partner with EuBiologics, who share our commitment to making a positive impact on the lives of people in Africa, especially at a time when the continent is striving for vaccine manufacturing self-sufficiency.”

The enthusiasm for this collaboration is shared by Baik Yeong-ok, the CEO of EuBiologics, who remarks, “We are delighted to have signed this MOU with Biovac for the technology transfer of the pentavalent conjugate vaccine.

“While this marks the beginning of our partnership, I am optimistic that it will contribute to global public health improvements, bolster the capabilities of an African manufacturer, and, most importantly, make a profound difference in the lives of people in Africa, where the disease burden is most severe.”

This momentous MOU signing took place in Cape Town, where Biovac co-hosted the 24th Annual General Meeting of the Developing Countries Vaccine Manufacturing Network (DCVMN).

This event brought together vaccine manufacturers, global partners, and stakeholders from around the world.

The collaboration between Biovac and EuBiologics exemplifies the kind of partnership vital for the sustainable growth of vaccine manufacturing on the African continent and, by extension, the enhancement of global health equity outcomes.

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