Vaccine Institute plans game-changing new lab
A new dawn is on the horizon for Botswana Vaccine Institute (BVI).
In a bid to diversify its products and offer other animal health solutions besides Foot & Mouth (FMD) vaccines, the institute will build a P300 million state-of-the-art laboratory.
The vaccine manufacturing plant, which when complete will measure an impressive 900 square metres, is part of the 2021-2025 strategic plan, which seeks to re-energise BVI as a key player in unlocking Africa’s livestock potential.
Speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony last Wednesday, BVI General Manager, Andrew Madeswi, explained a key part of the plan is ‘Four for Forty’, aimed at reducing the institute’s reliance on FMD vaccines and ensuring 40 percent of the Institute’s total revenue is generated from at least four non-FMD products.
“To achieve that, we have to service, repair and maintain most of our plant equipment to ensure that it operates optimally. The blending and filling facility meets all set international standards. It will further enable us to penetrate new markets, diversify our product offering and improve production, warehousing and distribution. We will install a new filling line in the facility that will run with the latest technology, meaning less human manipulation, faster processing of filling and labelling vials and accommodating a new line of 50ml, 100ml and 300ml,” said Madeswi.
The plant, expected to be up-and-running by 2025, will also enable BVI to expand its FMD range.
“The new facility will allow us to produce both aqueous and oily FMD vaccines because the current facility only produces aqueous. This will allow us to provide FMD vaccines for all species, including pigs, which require oily vaccines,” revealed Madeswi.
BVI has struggled with sustainability problems due to its over-dependence on FMD vaccine sales.
Global demand for the FMD vaccine is driven by the cyclical nature of diseases thus, in the absence of FMD outbreaks, BVI does not make any money since there are no sales made.
Officiating at the event, Minister of Agricultural Development and Food Security, Fidelis Molao, promised BVI that government would continue to back it.
“It is compelling that BVI continues to develop through investment in infrastructure to help it not only to keep abreast of international pharmaceutical standards but to position itself well to compete regionally and even globally with other vaccine manufacturers. Since BVI is a regional player, the government will continue to support it in order to produce high quality vaccines. With the commencement of the Africa Free Trade Agreement, this project puts Botswana and BVI in a good position to fully benefit from continental trade opportunities available,” Molao declared.
BVI was founded in 1978 with the strategic mandate of ensuring the sustainability of Botswana’s beef industry by controlling trans-boundary animal diseases as well as diseases of public health concern.
The institute produces and exports vaccines to over 15 countries in Africa and the Middle East.