Sinovac, Numolux in talks to build vaccine facility in South Africa: report

Amid global efforts to scale up vaccine capacity during the pandemic, China's Sinovac and a partner in South Africa are reportedly in talks to build a manufacturing facility in the country to produce vaccines to treat a variety of diseases.

Hilton Klein, chief executive of Numolux Group, said phase one of a new vaccine facility would handle bottling and labeling in an effort to quickly provide locally made shots to Africans. Klein made the comments Friday during the South African launch of a global phase 3 trial for Sinovac’s COVID-19 vaccine for children and adolescents, Reuters reports.

“This clinical trial is a precursor to the establishment of a South African vaccine manufacturing facility partnered by Sinovac and Numolux Group that will cover the entire spectrum of vaccinations beyond just the COVID-19 response,” Klein said, as quoted by the news service.

Neither Sinovac nor Numolux provided any details on the proposed facility.

RELATED: China's Sinovac, Sinopharm ink COVAX supply deal for up to 550M coronavirus vaccine doses

In July, the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority gave its nod for Sinovac’s COVID-19 vaccine CoronaVac to be used in people 18 to 59 years old, though the agency has since asked for additional information from the Chinese drugmaker on how the vaccine fares against the delta variant and in patients with HIV.

Sinovac earlier this year said it had a capacity to produce 2 billion doses of CoronaVac per year. That capacity was expected to increase after the company received a $515 million investment from Sino Biopharmaceutical.

At the time, the company said it had delivered some 200 million doses of the vaccine to more than 20 countries. 

RELATED: Sinovac aims to pump out 2B COVID-19 vaccine doses a year, courtesy of 3rd production line

This summer, Sinovac and another Chinese biotech, Sinopharm, inked a deal with global COVID-19 vaccine supply effort COVAX worth up to 550 million doses.

Meanwhile, the proposed South African site is one of several new biopharma projects in the country. For one, Johnson & Johnson has partnered with South Africa's Aspen Pharmacare for COVID-19 shot production with the help of a $200 million contribution from the U.S. government. In another high-profile deal, Pfizer and BioNTech partnered with Biovac on pandemic shot manufacturing.