100 million Pfizer jabs to be produced annually by Cape Town-based Biovac

The Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine will be partly produced in SA from next year, a first for Africa. File photo.
The Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine will be partly produced in SA from next year, a first for Africa. File photo. 
Image: REUTERS/DENIS BALIBOUSE

In a bid to curb the spread of Covid-19 and vaccinate a large number of people, Pfizer-BioNTech is set to produce vaccine jabs with a South African company.

The Covid-19 vaccine will be partly produced in SA from next year, making this a first for African countries. 

Here is what you need to know: 

Vaccines to be produced in Cape Town

Pfizer-BioNTech agreed to partner with the Biovac Institute to produce the jab locally at a facility in Cape Town.

Biovac will complete the last step in the manufacturing process, known as “fill and finish”, of the vaccine.

“Biovac will perform manufacturing and distribution activities within Pfizer-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,” said Pfizer and BioNTech in a joint statement.

Pfizer-BioNTech is set to produce 100 million vaccine jabs with SA company Biovac Institute.
Pfizer-BioNTech is set to produce 100 million vaccine jabs with SA company Biovac Institute.
Image: Screenshot

100 million doses to be produced annually

The facility will be incorporated into the vaccine supply chain by the end of 2021, the companies said.

Ingredients to produce the jabs will be obtained from facilities based in Europe and the manufacturing of finished doses will start in 2022. 

At full operational capacity, the annual production will exceed 100 million finished doses annually and all doses will exclusively be distributed within the 55 member states that make up the AU.

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

“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.”

Sustainable access to a vaccine

Biovac will become the first company in Africa to produce the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

The company's CEO Morena Makhoana said this was a critical step forward in strengthening sustainable access to a vaccine in the fight against the pandemic.

“We are thrilled to collaborate with Pfizer-BioNTech to produce and distribute the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine within Africa. This is a testament of the long-standing relationship we have had with Pfizer through the Prevenar 13 vaccine,” said Makhoana.

“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.”

A breakthrough in protecting Africa

President Cyril Ramaphosa welcomed the collaboration, saying it was a breakthrough in the protection of African nations against Covid-19. 

He said the agreement will contribute significantly to health security and sustainability on the continent, which currently has the least access to vaccination in the world.

“The partnership between Biovac and Pfizer is a breakthrough in our effort to overcome global vaccine inequity. The protection of Africans is a necessary and critical contribution to the protection of humanity as a whole,” said Ramaphosa. 

“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.

“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.”


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