Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE have signed a letter of intent with the Biovac Institute (Pty) Ltd. (Biovac), which are a pharmaceutical company based in Cape Town, to manufacture the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine for distribution to Africa.
Biovac will become the first company in Africa to produce the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine.
The Biovac Institute has long been a centre of excellence for the development and manufacture of quality vaccines for Africa. This announcement is also a welcome boost of confidence to the economy in Cape Town and the Western Cape, which is already a leading hub for health tech and innovation in the medical sector.
The Western Cape has one of the highest concentrations of medical device and healthcare companies in the country, and the health technology sector contributes an estimated 2,500 full time jobs and R1.7 billion to the economy in the Western Cape.
In a joint statement the pharmaceutical groups said: “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.”
The statement also confirmed that “Pfizer and BioNTech expect that Biovac’s Cape Town facility will be incorporated into the vaccine supply chain by the end of 2021. Biovac will obtain drug substance from facilities in Europe, and 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 African Union.”
The latest statistics show that more than 5.5 million South Africans have been partially vaccinated against Covid-19 and as of 20 July nearly 2 million adults were fully vaccinated. Chairman and chief executive of Pfizer Albert Bourla said: “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.”