South Africa’s Biovac to manufacture Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines for Africa
Pfizer and BioNTech partners with South Africa-based company, Biovac for the production of COVID-19 vaccines for the African Union (AU).
This was disclosed in a statement published on Wednesday, the two companies said Cape Town-based Biovac will complete the last step in the manufacturing process, known as “fill and finish”, of the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine.
“To facilitate Biovac’s involvement in the process, technical transfer, on-site development and equipment installation activities will begin immediately,” read the statement.
Ingredients to produce the jabs will arrive from plants based in Europe, while the manufacturing of finished doses will start in 2022, it added.
The companies expect that at “full operation capacity” the annual production of Biovac will hit 100 million doses per year – which will be distributed among the AU member states.
Just 1.5 per cent of people in Africa are fully vaccinated, compared with 43.7 percent in the European Union and nearly 50 per cent in the United States, according to Our World in Data.
Unequal distribution has been a source of debate for months at the World Trade Organization as developing countries, headed by India and South Africa, have been pushing a proposal to temporarily lift intellectual property (IP) rights on vaccines to boost global manufacturing capacity.