The American pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech announced that the South African pharmaceutical company Biovac will start distributing its vaccine against Covid-19 from the beginning of next year. This is the first of its kind on the African continent.
The companies signed a letter of intent that will enable Biovac to distribute up to 100 million doses of the vaccine annually among the 55 member states of the African Union. A statement said the transfer of technology and machinery needed to package the vaccine would begin “immediately”.
The serum is transported to South Africa from the European production sites of Pfizer and BioNTech. Thus, they retain control over the production of mRNA, the most sensitive and crucial stage in the production process. Then the bottles are bottled in South Africa.
“This is a critical step in enhancing access to vaccines,” said Morena Mjuana, CEO of Biovac. Involving African production sites should help distribute the vaccine more quickly and widely among the African population.
In rich countries, the vaccination campaign is well underway, but Africa still has a long way to go. Only 1.6 percent of vaccines are given in Africa, while the continent accounts for 17 percent of the world’s population. The World Health Organization (WHO) recently estimated that only 2% of the population is fully protected. Now African countries mainly rely on the international solidarity mechanism Kovacs.
Pfizer and BioNTech have already produced more than 1 billion doses for more than 100 countries. In 2021 and 2022, companies want to provide 1 billion vaccines annually to low- and middle-income countries.
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