21 July 2021
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Pfizer.Inc and BioNTech.SE will start producing Covi-19 vaccines in Africa next year, they announced on Wednesday. This comes through a collaboration with a South African human vaccine manufacturer BIOVAC. Ltd.
In a press release, Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 manufacturers announced the signing of a letter of intent with The Biovac Institute (Pty) Ltd, a Cape Town-based, South African bio-pharmaceutical company, to manufacture their vaccine for distribution within the African Union.
The move comes following the pharmaceutical companies’ determination to provide fair and equitable access of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine to everyone, everywhere including the African continent.
“We aim to enable people on all continents to manufacture and distribute our vaccine while ensuring the quality of the manufacturing process and the doses,” Ugur Sahin, M.D., CEO and Co-founder of BioNTech said.
Our first manufacturing partner within the African Union has just been announced! @biovac_inst is a Cape Town based biopharmaceutical company which will support the production of more than 100m doses of our #COVID19 vaccine as well as the distribution.https://t.co/owl0iuDFsi pic.twitter.com/7dZ5HUdpiW
— BioNTech SE (@BioNTech_Group) July 21, 2021
The news comes a few days after the continent reached 6 million Covid-19 cases, witnessing a third wave of contaminations. Unlike the increase in the number of infections, the vaccination rate on the continent remains low with just over 20 million full vaccine doses administered to a population of over 1.3 billion.
The vaccination programme on the continent has been plagued by a shortage of doses, much of which are supplied by the global vaccine distribution initiative COVAX. Manufacturing doses on the continent may address the issue.
“We believe this collaboration will create an opportunity to more broadly distribute vaccine doses to people in harder-to-reach communities, especially those on the African continent,” Dr. Morena Makhoana, CEO of Biovac stated.
Pfizer and BioNTech announce collab with @biovac_inst to distribute #COVID19 vaccine in Africa. #SAHTAC recently explored vaccine development in Africa with a webinar that spoke to understanding SA's readiness to develop vaccines at a large scale. https://t.co/avFVrbUstM pic.twitter.com/I2RvbzmDqc
— SAHTACtweets (@SAHTACtweets) July 21, 2021
For Dr John Nkengasong, the Director of the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) the announcement “is great and welcome news that must be celebrated in the context of this pandemic as every action counts. I see this as a part of the collective action to address technology transfer and intellectual property.”
Biovac’s annual production will exceed 100 million finished doses to be exclusively distributed in all the African Union countries.
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