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Billionaire pledges US$213M for South Africa vaccine work

U.S. biotech billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong will give an initial 3 billion rand (US$213M) to South Africa, the country of his birth, to help with the transfer of new technology for Covid-19 vaccines and other therapies.The country has “the science, the human capital and the capacity and the desire,” Soon-Shiong said Wednesday at an international meeting on equitable vaccine distribution co-chaired by the director-general of the World Health Organization. “South Africa could catalyze the capacity building and self-sufficiency and most importantly the innovation for Africa and for vaccines.”Through his family foundation and company, Soon-Shiong, 68, also plans to work with countries on the rest of the continent to enable the development of second-generation vaccine capabilities. This will help “address variants of the coronavirus that might make current vaccines less effective” and to ensure manufacturing of shots needed for other diseases, he said.Soon-Shiong’s comments come after one of his companies, ImmunityBio Inc., agreed a deal to manufacture coronavirus doses with The BioVac Institute, a state-backed South African vaccine company. The U.S. company’s version of the Covid-19 shot is in Phase I trials, and may form part of a new wave of vaccines that could be used to inoculate less developed parts of the world such as Africa.

Source: Further Africa

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