International researchers are investigating the feasibility of making human flu vaccines in South Africa. The US-based Institute of Clinical Studies, in partnership with South Africa's Biovac, a public-private initiative set to boost vaccine production, are currently considering proposals to begin manufacturing in the country.
South Africa stopped making human vaccines in 1999 and now only produces a small number of animal vaccines. If production does commence, South Africa could become an important base to supply the neighbouring region. The project is being considered as governments around the world prepare for a potential pandemic of avian flu. However, industry sources claim that it will take at least five years for any facility to begin operations.
Meanwhile, the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) has announced the start of phase II clinical trials in South Africa to test the safety of a vaccine for the most common strain of HIV in sub-Saharan Africa. The trial will involve 78 healthy men and women and will last 18 months.