Private sector vaccine revolution gains momentum

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Not only has Design Biologix received the registration for a second vaccine in a month’s time, but it’s also been able to manufacture over three million vials of BLU-VAX (G4534), the bluetongue vaccine it registered in May. The private animal vaccine manufacturer is still awaiting the registration of a further four vaccines.

This news was shared by Dr Angela Buys, chief operating officer of Design Biologix, with nearly 300 attendees of the Octavoscene-Chemuniqué feedlot information day held at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)’s Convention Centre in Pretoria on 23 June.

“Negativities in the media abounded lately, but there is light at the end of the tunnel, and we believe that Design Biologix is that light for the animal health industry,” Dr Buys said. She joined the Design Biologix team in 2013 as a researcher and has already developed 13 vaccines for the company of which nine has already been registered.



“The latest registration we received was for Clamyvax, which is an inactivated vaccine for Chlamydia abortus and Chlamydia picorum in sheep, goats and cattle,” Dr Buys said, adding that the product had already been launched.

Read more about Design Biologix’s bluetongue vaccine.

Gearing up for BLU-VAX launch

Since receiving the green light from the Registrar of Act 36 for the bluetongue vaccine, BLU-VAX (G4534), Dr Buys’ team has not rested on their laurels. 

Within a month’s time the company, with a staff complement of 70, has already made 5,5 million doses of antigen, which has enabled them to formulate 3,6 million vials of vaccine, Dr Buys confirmed. “We first needed to make enough product to ensure that it was available for market, before we could launch it.”

The vaccine, which was developed by Design Biologix’s viral researcher, Dr Beate von Teichman, will be launched in September. “We decided to launch the product strategically in September because bluetongue is a vector-borne viral disease, and if it’s launched too early it could be used too early,” Dr Buys explained, adding that they also want to utilise the months leading up to the launch as a period to educate veterinarians, producers and other end users on the use of this specific vaccine.

The inactivated product is safe to use in pregnant ewes and lambs as young as a week old. A single application is required in previously vaccinated animals.

Four vaccines await registration

Dr Buys said Design Biologix eagerly awaits the registration of four other vaccines, which had already been submitted to the Registrar for approval. The products are Riftvax, Ovivax, Multisomni Super and Multocidavax.

“All of these products’ applications are ready for large-scale production as soon as product registration is granted.”

Riftvax is an inactivated vaccine, manufactured using the Smithburn strain, for the prophylactic immunisation of healthy cattle, sheep and goats against Rift Valley fever.

Ovivax is an inactivated combination vaccine for the active immunisation of healthy sheep and goats against respiratory disease complex caused by Mannheimia haemolytica serotype A1, Pasteurella multocida serotype A, Bibersteinia trehalose, and Parainfluenza virus type 3.

Multisomni Super is an inactivated multi-component vaccine for the prophylactic immunisation of healthy cattle against bovine respiratory disease (BRD) caused by Pasteurella multocida type A, P. multocida type D, Histophilus somni, Mannheimia haemolytica serotype A1, Parainfluenza virus type 3, bovine herpes virus 1, bovine viral diarrhoea virus 1, and bovine respiratory syncytial virus.

Learn how to combat bluetongue amongst your flock.

Pipeline plans

“We are also working on a list of new products, because it’s important for us to solve South Africa’s problems with South African solutions.”

This is why the company decided to focus its attention on blood vaccines – redwater (bovine babesiosis), gallsickness (anaplasmosis) and heartwater. “The researcher working on this is developing a 2.0 for blood vaccines. We want to find solutions as fast as possible and eliminate the problems the industry currently faces with blood vaccines,” Dr Buys said.

With regard to reproductive diseases, the company is also researching the possibility of creating a vaccine that will combat both trichomoniasis and vibriosis. “This is only at the infant stage and unfortunately there is still a long lead time that’s necessary to develop an effective and safe product.”

Lastly, the organisation is also looking to formulate a new vaccine against African horse sickness.

Moving facilities

Dr Buys confirmed that the company is still in the process of moving premises from the CSIR to its new home in Rigel Avenue (Pretoria) and that the move would likely continue until next year. Design Biologix has been renovating and building at the new site since 2018.

“Our first priority is vaccine production and stock availability. While we are very excited over the move, it will not jeopardise delivery,” Dr Buys assured veterinarians and producers. – Susan Marais, AgriOrbit

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