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Nov 03, 2015 08:19 AM EST

Pfizer partners with Biovac to produce pneumococcal vaccine

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Pfizer has entered into a five year partnership with South Africa's Biovac Institute to produce a pneumonia vaccine for infants, Reuters reports.

The partnership with involve a transfer of technology and skills 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.

The technology transfer will take place over the next five years. It will include the packaging of labeled syringes first before manufacturing is expected to start in 2020, Pfizer country manager, Jennifer Power said.

Pandor pointed out that the pneumonia vaccine used up 40 percent of South Africa's budget for vaccines. He noted that the prices of vaccines have skyrocketed over the last decade.

"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.

According to the World Health Organisation, pneumonia is the leading infectious cause of death among children worldwide. It accounts for 15 percent of all deaths for children under the age of 5 years.

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