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Pfizer to manufacture its Covid-19 vaccine in South Africa

Just Earth News | @justearthnews | 21 Jul 2021

Pfizer to manufacture its Covid-19 vaccine in South Africa

Image Credit: UNI

Pfizer and BioNTech have said they will produce Covid-19 vaccine in South Africa in collaboration with Biovac Institute in Cape Town, in a move that would ease the supply of vaccines for the African Union (AU).

After the “full operation capacity” is reached, the vaccine production would exceed hundred million doses, the companies said in a statement.

Biovac will complete the last step in the manufacturing process of the BioNTech- Pfizer vaccine known as "fill and finish", reported Al Jazeera.

“To facilitate Biovac’s involvement in the process, technical transfer, on-site development and equipment installation activities will begin immediately,” read the statement.

Ingredients to produce the vaccine will be sourced from plants based in Europe, while the production of finished doses will begin in 2022, it added.

Vaccine inequity has been a major concern with many countries having access to far fewer doses compared to what they need to inoculate their eligible population.

Just 1.5 percent of people in Africa are fully vaccinated, compared with 43.7 percent in the European Union and nearly 50 percent in the United States, according to Our World in Data, said the Al Jazeera report.

Developing countries, led by India and South Africa, have been pushing a proposal to temporarily do away with the intellectual property (IP) rights on vaccines to increase global manufacturing capacity.

The proposal was backed by the majority of the countries at WTO but a handful of wealthy countries opposed, claiming that such a waiver would hamper technological innovation.

In June, the World Health Organization said it was establishing a hub, or training facility, in South Africa to provide companies the know-how and licences to produce COVID-19 vaccines, according to the report.

Biovac was one of the first participants in the UN health body's hub, it added.

It has been a collaborator of Pfizer since 2015 to manufacture and distribute its Prevenar 13 pneumonia vaccine, it said.