Dyadic International Inc., a US biotechnology company, has joined the race to produce Covid-19 vaccines in Africa, the least-vaccinated continent.
The Jupiter, Florida-based company on Tuesday announced a technology transfer and licensing deal with South Africa’s Rubic Consortium, a newly formed group that includes, Mathews Phosa, a former treasurer-general of the country’s ruling African National Congress.
In October or November Dyadic may begin an early-stage trial for the company’s coronavirus vaccine candidate after applying to the local health regulator for approval, said Shabir Madhi, a vaccinologist at Johannesburg’s University of the Witwatersrand, which is partnering Rubic. Dyadic’s technology may later be used to develop other vaccines and treatments, he said.
“The bigger attraction of the platform is to be able to develop vaccines as well as monoclonal antibodies against other diseases,” said Madhi in an interview on Wednesday.
Dyadic’s entry into South Africa, the continent’s most developed economy, sees it join ImmunityBio, part-owned by biotech billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong, in planning to have Covid-19 vaccines manufactured in the country. Pfizer Inc. has agreed to have its vaccine made by the Cape Town-based Biovac Institute, but will supply the inoculation’s ingredients in a similar deal to that between Johnson & Johnson and Durban, South Africa-based Aspen Pharmacare.
“You need multiple role players in that space or else you are putting all your eggs in one basket,” said Madhi, who has led Covid-19 shot trials for AstraZeneca Plc and Novavax Inc. in South Africa.
Rubic will have the right to manufacture vaccines using Dyadic’s C1-cell protein production platform in South Africa and to sell them to other African countries.
Should the early-stage trial be successful, Rubic will be responsible for the costs of a mid-stage trial.
To date just 1.4% of Africa’s 1.2 billion people have been fully vaccinated.
© 2021 Bloomberg