Biovac plant in Cape Town to pump out millions of Pfizer vaccines for Africa
Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine will be partly produced in Cape Town for African countries.
The US pharmaceutical giant and BioNTech said they had reached an agreement under which Biovac will handle the final stages of manufacturing, starting next year.
The New York Times reported on Wednesday that the first African production deal for the Pfizer vaccine could help to increase supplies to the continent, where only 1.5% of people are fully immunised.
The vaccine will be shipped from Europe to Biovac's Cape Town plant, where vials will be filled and packaged, ready for distribution.
Health activists have called on vaccine manufacturers to transfer their technology to local producers in poorer parts of the world to ramp up production and alleviate shortages, the New York Times said.
It quoted Matthew Kavanagh, director of the Global Health Policy and Politics Initiative at Georgetown University, as calling the Biovac deal “deeply disappointing”.
Kavanagh said: “What we have seen from all of these licensing agreements that only are fill-finish and keep the full production capacity to high-income-country producers is that they continue to just perpetuate the inequalities in distribution.”
Pfizer spokesperson Pamela Eisele said it was trying to ramp up vaccine production by “looking to external contract manufacturers to support the important fill-and-finish and distribution steps”.
She said efforts would begin immediately to transfer technology and install the necessary equipment at Biovac’s Cape Town facility, which would be able to supply more than 100 million doses each year at full capacity. These would be reserved for the 55 countries in the AU.