South African consortium signs landmark deal to lower Africa's COVID-19 vaccines costs

Landmark deal is expected to help lower the cost of COVID-19 vaccines across the continent.

On 27 July, the Florida-based biotechnology firm Dyadic International announced it had concluded a COVID-19 vaccine technology transfer and licensing agreement with the Rubic Consortium - made up of a panel of South African experts across a variety of disciplines including academia and public health. Mathews Phosa and Sandy Pillay are among some of the consortium’s leaders. The landmark deal will help the Rubic to develop and distribute vaccines across the African continent at a fifth of Pfizer’s current price – a huge boost for the continent that has so far only managed to vaccinate less than 2% of its 1.3 billion people. With only five African countries believed to have vaccine manufacturing capacity, the transaction is seen as a significant step in enabling the continent to manufacture what its people consume.

“South Africa and other countries on the continent are heavily dependent on foreign vaccine production and technology transfer, and have not adopted an integrated approach to vaccine research and development, manufacturing and distribution,” said Naidoo. According to the terms of the agreement, once Dyadic’s COVID-19 Phase I vaccine clinical trial is successfully completed, all costs for further development, regulatory approval, manufacturing, launch and/or commercialization of the vaccine across a multitude of African countries will be borne by the consortium. “Our intention is to provide accessible and affordable vaccines to Africans, establish a vaccine research hub to leverage local scientific capability in the region and establish a vaccine-manufacturing unit with the infrastructure, processing operations and capabilities for the manufacture and distribution of high-quality vaccines throughout the continent,” added Naidoo.