Cabinet has welcomed the R3 billion commitment, to transfer the latest technology for producing vaccines and biological therapies to South Africa, announced by Dr Patrick Soon-Shiong.
Dr. Soon-Shiong, who is a South African born biotechnology entrepreneur, now based in the United States, announced this during a meeting organised by the World Health Organisation, on Wednesday.
“Cabinet applauds the active support of Dr Soon-Shiong and other philanthropists for equitable distribution of COVID 19 vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics,” Cabinet said in statement on Thursday.
“Cabinet also appreciate the acknowledgement by Dr Soon-Shiong of South Africa’s advancement in the science, the human capital, the capacity and the desire to produce second generation vaccines to address variants of the Coronavirus that might make current vaccines less effective.”
The Wits-educated billionaire scientist was born in Gqeberha and is currently a big player in the pharmaceutical sector in the United States.
Meanwhile, South Africa will donate ventilators to India as the country’s COVID-19 death toll surpassed the 250 000 mark this week, with over 23 000 000 cumulative cases.
According to Cabinet, lending a helping hand is part of South Africa’s commitment that the fight against the pandemic across the globe requires a collective effort.
“Cabinet was briefed on the prevailing situation relating to COVID-19 infections in India and supported the decision to donate ventilators to India.”
Meanwhile, the Executive said it is aware of concerns amongst South Africans about the situation in India.
“We wish to assure South Africans that the Department of Health and our scientists continue to monitor developments in that country and that the necessary and appropriate precautions and protocols are implemented to protect South Africans.”
Cabinet also touched on the “slight” peak in COVID-19 infections in the country.
“Cabinet reminds all South Africans to continue adhering to the non-pharmaceutical health protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19 of continuing to wear masks when in public; maintaining social distance of at least 1.5 metres; always wash hands with water and soap or use a 70% alcohol-based hand sanitiser and avoid unnecessary travel and stay home.”
Cabinet also welcomed the support of the United States for the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to waive Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) on COVID-19 vaccines.
“South Africa and India have been leading the initiative at the WTO for the waiver of TRIPS.”
Cabinet believes that the waiver of TRIPS will enable access to technologies that will give impetus to the wider manufacturing of lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines.
“The move has seen more than 100 countries, including China, support the effort to apply waivers to parts of the WTO’s TRIPS.”
According to the Executive, poor access to COVID-19 vaccines has prevented the majority of developing countries in particular within the African continent to make significant progress in the fight against Coronavirus.
“Cabinet’s view is that preventing nations from developing their own vaccines in the face of high mortality rate as a result of the Coronavirus is morally indefensible.”
Cabinet has once again reiterated its message of gratitude to the nurses in South Africa as they commemorated International Nurses’ Day on Wednesday.
“Nurses, together with other health workers, continue to be at the frontline in the fight against COVID-19, at personal risk to their own lives and risk of exposure to their families. Government remains indebted to the resilience, sacrifice and tenacity of South Africa’s nurses in the fight against COVID-19,” said Cabinet.