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Pfizer and BioNTech have announced a collaboration with The Biovac Institute in Cape Town to manufacture and distribute COVID-19 vaccines in Africa.
On 21 July, the two pharmaceutical companies signed a letter of intent with Biovac to produce vaccines.
“From day one, our goal has been to provide fair and equitable access of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to everyone, everywhere,” Pfizer Chairperson and CEO, Albert Bourla, said in a statement.
A technical transfer will commence at the local Biovac facility immediately. The transfer will include on-site development and equipment installation.
The companies expect to incorporate Biovac into their vaccine supply chain by the end of 2021. Production of finished vaccines for Africa will then start in 2022.
Biovac will obtain drug substances from facilities in Europe. It will then distribute the vaccines exclusively among the African Union’s 55 member states.
At full capacity, the Biovac facility will produce more than 100 million doses annually.
“This is a critical step forward in strengthening sustainable access to a vaccine in the fight against this tragic, worldwide pandemic,” Biovac CEO Dr Morena Makhoana said.
“We believe this collaboration will create an opportunity to more broadly distribute vaccine doses to people in harder-to-reach communities, especially those on the African continent.”
BioNTech said it and Pfizer had, to date, shipped more than one billion COVID-19 vaccine doses worldwide. The companies aim to provide two billion doses to middle-income countries in 2021 and 2022.
Featured image: Unsplash/Spencer Davis