South African biotech CapeBio approved to produce rapid COVID-19 kits locally

The homegrown biotech gets SAHPRA green light to manufacture COVID-19 PCR tests kits on home soil.

The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority has given the green light for local biotech CapeBio Technologies to manufacture rapid COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction test kits on home soil, in collaboration with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. The biotech is looking to produce up to 5,000 kits per day and has already kicked off manufacturing for the kits at its Centurion facility. The first batches of these are expected to be available before the end of August, and each kit is said to provide a thousand tests. “It’s a great milestone for our country. For the first time we have a product that is registered by our regulator that is developed locally by local scientists,” said the company’s CEO Daniel Ndima during a televised interview on eNCA.

“More importantly, this capability complements the current efforts by the government in terms of testing and vaccinations. These two go hand-in-hand, you can’t have one without the other,” added Ndima. The announcement was welcomed by the ministry of science, technology and innovation and has been lauded for being an encouraging step in reducing the country’s reliance on imports and putting the country more in control of its testing efforts. The news come as the country is still battling a third wave fueled by the more transmissible Delta variant. While active COVID-19 cases have been declining, some parts of the country such as the Western Cape and KwaZulu Natal are still reporting worryingly high numbers. On Friday, health authorities also raised concerns about the recent slowing pace of vaccinations.