Pfizer-BioNTech strikes vaccine manufacturing deal with SA’s Biovac

Pfizer and BioNTech on Wednesday announced they had struck a deal with the Biovac Institute to manufacture over 100 million doses a year of their Covid-19 vaccine for distribution within the African Union (AU).

“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-BioNTech said in a statement.

Pfizer and BioNTech expect Biovac’s Cape Town facility to be incorporated into the vaccine supply chain by the end of 2021.

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Biovac will obtain drug substances from facilities in Europe, and the 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 AU.”

Ramaphosa welcomes collaboration

President Cyril Ramaphosa welcomed the signing of a letter of intent between Pfizer-BioNTech and Biovac, describing the collaboration as a breakthrough in the protection of African nations against the coronavirus.

“This collaboration recognises the talent and technology that exists on our continent that can be harnessed in our irreversible march of sustainable and inclusive development.

“The more we roll up our sleeves to receive our jabs, the safer we will be as individuals, families and communities. The safer we are, the more secure our future as a continent on the rise will be,” Ramaphosa said in a short statement shared on Twitter.

‘Shining example of tireless work’

Albert Bourla, chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) of Pfizer, said their goal had been to provide fair and equitable access of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine to everyone, everywhere in the world.

“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,” Bourla said.

The CEO and co-founder of BioNTech, Ugur Sahin, said they aimed to enable people on all continents to manufacture and distribute their vaccine while ensuring the quality of the manufacturing process and the doses.

“We believe that our mRNA technology can be used to develop vaccine candidates addressing other diseases as well. This is why we will continue to evaluate sustainable approaches that will support the development and production of mRNA vaccines on the African continent.”

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