Covid-19 Vaccine To Be Made In South Africa By Pfizer/BioNTech
BioNTech and Pfizer, the producers of the Covid-19 vaccine, said on Wednesday that they had identified a South African partner to develop the vaccine for the first time on the African continent.
The decision comes amid mounting criticism of vaccine inequity, which has seen impoverished countries fall behind richer countries in the race to protect people from the coronavirus.
According to the firms, Biovac, based in Cape Town, will complete the final step in the production process of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, known as “fill and finish.”
The project will take some time to get off the ground, with the first Pfizer vaccines made in Africa not expected until 2022.
Biovac is expected to produce more than 100 million doses per year once it is up and operating, which will be given to the African Union’s 55 member countries.
Morena Makhoana, CEO of Biovac, said, “This is a major step forward in establishing sustainable access to a vaccine in the battle against this devastating, worldwide pandemic.”
The statement went on to say that “technical transfer, on-site development, and equipment installation activities will commence immediately.”
Based on experimental mRNA technology, the coronavirus vaccine produced by BioNTech and its US partner Pfizer was the first to be licensed in the West late last year.
It has been demonstrated in studies to be particularly effective against Covid-19, even newer versions.
Another plant in South Africa is already handling the fill and finish process for Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 injection, which is based on a classic viral vector-based technique.
With vaccine rollouts well underway in the West, and supply in certain places even outstripping demand, pressure on pharmaceutical corporations to waive patents on life-saving vaccines has intensified.
Companies and countries such as Germany, whose Chancellor Angela Merkel has stated that suspending intellectual property rights would hinder innovation and would not alleviate the shortage of industrial capacity in the medium run.
Instead, she has advocated for licensing arrangements and partnerships between vaccine manufacturers and local enterprises, like BioNTech and Pfizer have done.
“We want to make it possible for people on all continents to manufacture and distribute our vaccine while assuring the quality of the manufacturing process and doses,” said BioNTech co-founder and CEO Ugur Sahin.
According to prepared remarks at a World Trade Organization summit, weakening intellectual property “will only discourage the type of unprecedented innovation that brought vaccines forward in record time and make it harder for companies to collaborate going forward,” according to Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla. Brief News from Washington Newsday.