Sanofi and Biovac have announced a partnership to establish the first African-based manufacturing capabilities for inactivated polio vaccines (IPV), marking a significant step towards regional vaccine self-sufficiency.

The collaboration aligns with the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s goal of producing 60% of vaccines locally by 2040.

Polio, a highly infectious disease primarily affecting children under five, can lead to fever, aching muscles, fatigue and stiffness in the neck, and limb pain.

The partnership addresses the needs of more than 40 African countries, enhancing access to essential immunisations.

Sanofi will produce the IPV in bulk while Biovac, holding the marketing authorisation, will manage the late-stage formulation, filling, packaging and distribution.

Biovac will deliver the IPV doses to the United Nations’ Children’s Fund, UNICEF, for distribution in GAVI-[the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation] supported African countries.

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Sanofi Vaccines executive vice-president Thomas Triomphe stated: “For 40 years, Sanofi has supplied billions of polio vaccine doses globally, supporting the world getting close to polio eradication. But with the Covid-19 pandemic, many routine paediatric vaccination programmes were halted or disrupted.

“Catching up will be key to preventing a rise in cases in many countries worldwide and this Sanofi partnership with Biovac is a step in that direction.”

Biovac was established in 2003 with the South African government’s support and is engaged in vaccine development and manufacture.

Sanofi has delivered more than 1.5 billion doses worldwide through UNICEF and GAVI.

Biovac CEO Dr Morena Makhoana stated: “We are very proud of this partnership with Sanofi, which will empower Biovac as an African manufacturer to champion polio eradication on and for the continent by bringing manufacturing of IPV doses closer to people’s needs.”

In May 2024, Sanofi collaborated with Formation Bio and OpenAI to harness AI for expediting drug development.