S/Africa welcomes Biovac-Pfizer deal to make vaccines

A collaboration between South Africa's Biovac Institute and global pharmaceutical giant Pfizer to make coronavirus vaccines in the country was…

A collaboration between South Africa’s Biovac Institute and global pharmaceutical giant Pfizer to make coronavirus vaccines in the country was a “breakthrough in the protection of African nations against Covid-19”, President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced.Ramaphosa, who is the African Union Champion on Covid-19, welcomed the announcement on Wednesday that the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine would be produced in South Africa’s Cape Town by the Biovac Institute. 

“The agreement will contribute significantly to health security and sustainability on our continent, which currently has the least access to vaccination in the world,” he said.

He added: “In terms of the announcement, Biovac has been appointed to manufacture the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for distribution within Africa, making it the first company on the continent to produce a mRNA-based vaccine.”

He said Biovac would “immediately embark on technological transfer activities that include on-site development and equipment installation for the production of the Pfizer-BioNtech Covid-19 vaccines.”

Biovac expected the facility would be brought into the Pfizer-BioNtech supply chain by the end of 2021, and that it would obtain drug substance from BioNTech’s facilities in Germany, Ramaphosa added.

“At full operational capacity, the annual Covid vaccine production will aim for 100 million finished doses annually. All doses will exclusively be distributed within the 55 African Union member states,” he said.

The South African leader revealed that Biovac’s expansion in production and acquisition of specialised equipment related to mRNA technology entailed an investment of shared cost of US$14 million over the next six months

Ramaphosa said the partnership between Biovac and Pfizer was a breakthrough in the efforts to overcome global vaccine inequity.

“The protection of Africans is a necessary and critical contribution to the protection of humanity as a whole. 

This partnership demonstrates what we can achieve when the state sector and the private sector craft a shared vision and pool resources for the greater good of society,” he said.

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