Win for Africa as new Sanofi-Biovac partnership set to ramp up local manufacturing

It's a great milestone for Africa as Sanofi and Biovac partner to enhance local production of polio vaccines in Africa.
local manufacturing
Image Credit: Sanofi and Biovac

Sanofi, a leading vaccines company, has announced a local manufacturing partnership with Biovac, a biopharmaceutical company based in South Africa, to produce inactivated polio vaccines (IPV) in Africa.

This agreement is designed to facilitate regional production of polio vaccines, addressing the potential needs of over 40 African countries.

Under the deal, Sanofi will continue to produce a significant portion of the vaccines, while Biovac will manage the late-stage formulation, filling, packaging, and delivery to UNICEF and African countries supported by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

Established in 2003 in collaboration with the South African market, Biovac will become the first African producer of IPV, serving the continent through this partnership with Sanofi.

What was said

Biovac’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Morena Makhoana expressed his excitement over the new deal:

“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 needs.”

Sanofi’s Executive Vice President, vaccines, Thomas Triomphe expressed the importance of bridging the vaccination gap occasioned by the COVID-19 supply chain disruptions:

“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 pediatric vaccination programs 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. Establishing this manufacturing partnership now, ahead of time, is key to enabling Biovac’s manufacturing capabilities for future international tenders.”

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Polio in Africa

Poliomyelitis (polio) is a highly contagious viral disease that primarily affects children under the age of five. The virus attacks the nervous system, potentially causing total paralysis within a few hours.

Over the past few decades, there has been a concerted effort to eradicate polio, with cases caused by the wild polio virus dropping from 350,000 in 1988 to just 22 in 2017, representing a 99% reduction. However, according to the WHO, there were 438 cases of circulating variant polio in 2022, a number that decreased to 304 in the following year.

This indicates that the battle against the disease continues.


In recent months, several pharmaceutical companies, including Bayer and GSK, have closed their manufacturing plants, citing devaluation of local currencies, lack of foreign exchange, and an unfavorable business environment.

These exits have led to increased drug prices.

Amid skepticism about the feasibility of local manufacturing in Africa, this new agreement demonstrates that the continent can still achieve health product security through local production, provided the strategy is effective.

The impact of this deal, and potentially others in the future, on public health in Southern Africa and the rest of the continent could be substantial.

We’ll have to wait and see.

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