Pfizer and BioNTech agreed to partner with SA’s Biovac Institute to make their Covid-19 vaccine at a facility in Cape Town and deliver more than 100 million doses annually to African nations, it was announced on Wednesday.
Biovac previously worked with Pfizer on the Prevnar 13 vaccine and is expected to manufacture and distribute vaccines to Pfizer and BioNTech's supply chain globally.
The doses manufactured will go to the African Union's 55 member states.
Pfizer and BioNTech expect that Biovac’s Cape Town facility will be incorporated into the vaccine supply chain by the end of 2021, they said in a joint statement.
Biovac will obtain the drug substance from facilities in Europe, and manufacturing of finished doses will begin in 2022.
"From day one, our goal has been to provide fair and equitable access of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine to everyone, everywhere," said Albert Bourla, chairperson and chief executive officer of Pfizer.
"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."
"We aim to enable people on all continents to manufacture and distribute our vaccine while ensuring the quality of the manufacturing process and the doses," said Ugur Sahin, MD, CEO and co-founder of BioNTech. "We believe that our mRNA technology can be used to develop vaccine candidates addressing other diseases as well. This is why we will continue to evaluate sustainable approaches that will support the development and production of mRNA vaccines on the African continent."
Morena Makhoana, CEO of Biovac, described the move as a "critical step forward in strengthening sustainable access" to Covid-19 vaccines.