Global pharmaceutical company, Pfizer, has partnered with South Africa's Biovac Institute to produce a potentially life-saving pneumonia vaccine for infants, a cabinet minister said on Tuesday.
According to the World Health Organisation, pneumonia is the leading infectious cause of death among children worldwide, accounting for 15 percent of all deaths for children under the age of 5 years.
The five-year partnership, officially announced at Biovac's Cape Town manufacturing facility, will see technology transfer and skills upgraded for the production of 'Prevenar 13' vaccine on a sustainable basis, Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor said.
"There is more that we can do to cut the costs of the vaccine, and that is to manufacture the vaccine here in Cape Town," Pandor told a news conference.
Noting that vaccine prices have sky-rocketed over the last decade, Pandor said the pneumonia vaccine alone used up 40 percent of South Africa's budget for vaccines.
"There won't be an immediate saving because we will still continue to import ... but in the final analysis, when we get to 2020 we shouldn't be purchasing the vaccine in dollars but as manufactured in South Africa," Pandor said.
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