JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – A South African company will start producing the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine against COVID-19, marking the first time it has been produced in Africa, Pfizer announced Wednesday.
The Cape Town-based Biovac Institute will manufacture the vaccine for distribution in Africa. The move is expected to help address the continent’s urgent need for more vaccine doses amid a recent spike in cases.
Biovac will receive large batches of vaccine components from Europe and mix them locally, before being bottled and packaged for distribution. Production will begin in 2022, with the goal of reaching more than 100 million doses annually. Biovac dose production will be distributed among the 54 countries in Africa.
Biovac executive director Morena Makhoana called the measure “a critical step” to increase Africa’s access to an effective COVID-19 vaccine.
South Africa relies on the Pfizer vaccine in its mass inoculation campaign. It has purchased 40 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine that arrive in weekly deliveries.
Pfizer’s goal is for people around the world to have access to its vaccine, said the drugmaker’s chief executive, Albert Bourla. However, the vast majority of its vaccine doses have been sold to wealthy countries through bilateral agreements and only a small amount was made available to the UN-backed effort to share vaccines fairly.