Partnership to produce Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in South Africa

Article by Amanda Doyle

PFIZER and BioNTech have signed a letter of intent with South African biopharmaceutical company Biovac to produce the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in Cape Town.

Technical transfer, on-site development, and equipment installation will begin immediately at Biovac’s Cape Town facility. The facility is expected to be incorporated into the supply chain by the end of this year. Drug substance will be supplied from European facilities, and fill-and-finish will begin at the Cape Town facility in 2022. The facility will have a production capacity of 100m doses a year. All doses will be distributed to African countries.

Morena Makhoana, CEO of Biovac, said: “This is a critical step forward in strengthening sustainable access to a vaccine in the fight against this tragic, worldwide pandemic. We believe this collaboration will create opportunity to more broadly distribute vaccine doses to people in harder-to-reach communities, especially those on the African continent.”

Ugur Sahin, CEO and Co-founder of BioNTech, said: “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. 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.”

Speaking to The Financial Times last month, Sahin said that while a fill-and-finish facility could be established quickly in Africa, establishing facilities for the earlier stages of vaccine manufacture such as mRNA production would likely take around four years. He added that all future BioNTech facilities in Africa would produce treatments at non-profit rates for low- and middle-income countries.

Article by Amanda Doyle

Staff Reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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