Following growing concerns and criticism regarding the Covid-19 vaccine inequality that has seen poorer countries fall behind in the vaccine rollout, BioNTech and Pfizer have agreed to partner with the Biovac Institute to produce the jab locally at a facility in Cape Town.
This announcement was made on Wednesday with the aim of delivering more than 100 million doses annually which is to be distributed to African nations. According to AFP, Biovac will complete the last step in the manufacturing process known as “fill and finish.”
Biovac chief executive officer Morena Makhoana said: “This is a critical step forward in strengthening sustainable access to a vaccine in the fight against this tragic, worldwide pandemic.”
In a joint statement as cited by IOL, the pharmaceutical groups maintained: “Biovac will perform manufacturing and distribution activities within Pfizer’s and BioNTech’s global Covid-19 vaccine supply chain and manufacturing network, which will now span three continents and include more than 20 manufacturing facilities. To facilitate Biovac’s involvement in the process, technical transfer, on-site development and equipment installation activities will begin immediately.”
“Pfizer and BioNTech expect that Biovac’s Cape Town facility will be incorporated into the vaccine supply chain by the end of 2021. Biovac will obtain drug substance from facilities in Europe, and manufacturing of finished doses will commence in 2022.
“At full operational capacity, the annual production will exceed 100 million finished doses annually. All doses will exclusively be distributed within the 55 member states that make up the African Union,” the statement added.
Studies have shown that the coronavirus vaccine developed by BioNTech and Pfizer is highly effective against the virus, including more contagious variants.
Meanwhile, South Africa has recorded more than 2.3 million infections and over 67,000 deaths.