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A technician at the Chan Soon-Shiong Centre for Epidemic Response and Innovation at Stellenbosch University on January 19 2022. Picture: GCIS/ELMOND JIYANE.
A technician at the Chan Soon-Shiong Centre for Epidemic Response and Innovation at Stellenbosch University on January 19 2022. Picture: GCIS/ELMOND JIYANE.

A manufacturing operation that will allow next-generation vaccines to be manufactured in SA for the rest of the continent was launched in Cape Town on Wednesday by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Patrick Soon-Shiong, founder of the multinational conglomerate NantWorks, established NantSA in Brackenfell. The billionaire was born in SA and graduated from Wits University medical school.

Ramaphosa and Soon-Shiong also launched the Coalition to Accelerate Africa’s Access to Advanced Healthcare, which aims to drive the development of  innovative therapeutics and ensure the continent is prepared for future pandemics.

Patrick Soon-Shiong with Stellenbosch University rector Wim de Villiers and higher education, science and technology minister Blade Nzimande, at the launch of the Chan Soon-Shiong Centre for Epidemic Response and Innovation on January 19 2022. Picture: GCIS/ELMOND JIYANE
Patrick Soon-Shiong with Stellenbosch University rector Wim de Villiers and higher education, science and technology minister Blade Nzimande, at the launch of the Chan Soon-Shiong Centre for Epidemic Response and Innovation on January 19 2022. Picture: GCIS/ELMOND JIYANE

Earlier on Wednesday, Soon-Shiong was at Stellenbosch University for the launch of the Chan Soon-Shiong Centre for Epidemic Response and Innovation.

The Chan Soon-Shiong Family Foundation is also supporting the establishment of institutes for infectious disease and cancer centres of excellence at the universities of Cape Town and the Witwatersrand.

Soon-Shiong runs NantWorks from Los Angeles and has signed a collaboration agreement with the CSIR and SA Medical Research Council (SAMRC).

Speakers at the launch in Brackenfell included Corey Casper, CEO of the Infectious Diseases Research Institute at the University of Washington in the US; Glenda Gray, president and CEO of the SAMRC; and John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

Soon-Shiong holds more than 500 patents for cancer and infectious disease treatments and has invested in biotechnology and artificial intelligence start-ups.

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