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WATCH | Ramaphosa opens African vaccine HQ in Cape Town with billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong

19 January 2022 - 11:05 By PHILANI NOMBEMBE
A technician at the Chan Soon-Shiong Centre for Epidemic Response and Innovation at Stellenbosch University on January 19 2022.
A technician at the Chan Soon-Shiong Centre for Epidemic Response and Innovation at Stellenbosch University on January 19 2022.
Image: Elmond Jiyane, GCIS

A manufacturing operation which will allow next-generation vaccines to be manufactured in SA for the rest of the continent was launched in Cape Town on Wednesday by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

NantSA has been established in Brackenfell by billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong, founder of the multinational conglomerate NantWorks, who was born in SA and graduated from Wits University medical school.

Ramaphosa and Soon-Shiong also launched the Coalition to Accelerate Africa’s Access to Advanced Healthcare, which aims to drive the development of  innovative therapeutics and ensure the continent is prepared for future pandemics.

The coalition aims to manufacture a billion doses of the Covid-19 vaccine by 2025 and to develop treatments for conditions including cancer, Covid-19, tuberculosis and HIV/Aids.

Earlier on Wednesday, Soon-Shiong was at Stellenbosch University for the launch of the Chan Soon-Shiong Centre for Epidemic Response and Innovation.

The Chan Soon-Shiong Family Foundation is also supporting the establishment of  institutes for infectious disease and cancer centres of excellence at the universities of Cape Town and the Witwatersrand.

Soon-Shiong runs NantWorks from Los Angeles and has signed a collaboration agreement with the CSIR and SA Medical Research Council (SAMRC).

Speakers at the launch in Brackenfell included:

  • Corey Casper, CEO of the Infectious Diseases Research Institute at the University of Washington in the US;
  • Glenda Gray, president and CEO of the SAMRC; and
  • John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

Soon-Shiong holds more than 500 patents for cancer and infectious disease treatments and has invested in biotechnology and artificial intelligence start-ups.

Western Cape premier Alan Winde, who was at the launch, said he was excited by what the Brackenfell development would mean for the health technology industry in the province.

"We can become global leaders in this space and ensure that right here at the southern tip of Africa we play a leading role in the fight against the major health challenges of our time," said Winde.

TimesLIVE

Patrick Soon-Shiong with Stellenbosch University rector Wim de Villiers and higher education, science and technology minister Blade Nzimande at the launch of the Chan Soon-Shiong Centre for Epidemic Response and Innovation on January 19 2022.
Patrick Soon-Shiong with Stellenbosch University rector Wim de Villiers and higher education, science and technology minister Blade Nzimande at the launch of the Chan Soon-Shiong Centre for Epidemic Response and Innovation on January 19 2022.
Image: Elmond Jiyane, GCIS

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