By Thys Khiba
Johannesburg – BioNTech and Pfizer on Wednesday confirmed they have signed a letter of intent with the Cape Town based biopharmaceutical company Biovac Institute, a company partially owned by the South African government to produce their jab locally.
This is after the growing criticism of vaccine inequality that has seen poor countries fall behind richer ones in the race to protect people from the coronavirus.
The first such deal on the African continent and will see Biovac start producing its COVID-19 vaccine at a facility in Cape Town.
Meanwhile, the project will take time to get off the ground, however, with the first African-finished vaccines not expected before 2022.
Biovac Institute is expected to produce more than 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine annually. BioNTech confirmed that all doses will be distributed within the 55 member states that make up the African Union (AU).
“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.”
According to Albert Bourla, Pfizer Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, said it has always been their goal to provide fair and equitable access of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to everyone, everywhere.
“Our latest collaboration with Biovac is a shinning example of the tireless work being done, in this instance to benefit Africa. We will continue to explore and pursue opportunities to bring new partners into our supply chain network, including in Latin America, to further accelerate access of COVID-19 vaccines.”
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