Pfizer partners with SA firm for African vaccine production

Pfizer vaccine
Pfizer vaccine

US giant, Pfizer, has signed an agreement with Biovac, a Cape Town-based biopharmaceutical firm, to establish a plant in that country which, when fully operational, will produce 100 million COVID-19 doses annually exclusively for Africa.

Biovac is a private public partnership between the Biovac Consortium and South Africa’s Department of Health.

In a statement this afternoon, officials from Pfizer and its German partner in the vaccines, BioNTech, said manufacturing of finished doses was expected to begin next year. Biovac’s Cape Town facility will be incorporated into the vaccine supply chain by the end of 2021 and Biovac will obtain drug substance from facilities in Europe.

“From day one, our goal has been to provide fair and equitable access of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine to everyone, everywhere,” said Albert Bourla, chairman and CEO of Pfizer.

“Our latest collaboration with Biovac is a shining 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.”

The latest developments come as a blessing to Africa which currently lags behind the world in terms of access to COVID-19 vaccines. Despite experiencing some of the world’s fastest rising COVID-19 cases due to the highly transmissible Delta variant, less than two percent of Africans have been vaccinated thus far.

By July 16, Botswana had vaccinated just under five percent of the eligible population, although government this afternoon announced it would begin vaccinating the key 30 to 54 year range which forms the bulk of the targetted, working population.

Botswana had already secured an unspecified number of doses from Pfizer through a bilateral arrangement. As at July 16, the country had vaccinated 194,676 people with their first dose and within that figure, 116,147 had received their second dose.

Meanwhile countries such as the US and Canada, which pre-ordered doses while research was ongoing, have vaccinated more than two thirds of their citizens and are fast approaching full coverage. Producers of the approved vaccines have been criticised for refusing to share their intellectual property with pharmaceutical producers in Africa, which would help faster rollout of the life-saving drugs.

“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,” said Ugur Sahin, M.D., CEO and Co-founder of BioNTech.

Editor's Comment
Seamless Business Environment Needed Post-COVID

The country was also classified as the least corrupt in the world with strong anti-graft checks and balances. With these assurances, investors were guaranteed safety on their investments and returns. That is no longer the case. Several countries like Namibia, South Africa and Mauritius have done well over the years and overtaken Botswana as attractive places to do business.Therefore, when countries that Botswana is competing with for a piece of...

Have a Story? Send Us a tip
arrow up