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South African company to help produce BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine for Africa

BioNTech and Pfizer announced today a deal with South African biopharmaceutical Biovac to complete the final stage of the production process for their coronavirus jab and distribute it on the vaccine-starved continent. 

The companies have signed a letter of intent that would see Biovac start to carry out “fill and finish” of the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine starting in 2022, with their facility being incorporated into the BioNTech/Pfizer supply chain by the end of this year. The drug substance will come from European facilities. Eventually, the partners hope that Biovac will be able to fill and finish over 100 million doses that would be exclusively distributed within the African Union. 

It’s a significant step towards the production of vaccines on the African continent, which has relied on vaccines being produced elsewhere. But today’s agreement is still limited, as it would allow Biovac to only take part in the final stage of vaccine manufacturing, which has been a point of contention for many critics. 

“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,” said Uğur Şahin, CEO of BioNTech. “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.”

A separate technology transfer hub for mRNA coronavirus vaccines has been established by the World Health Organization, with which Biovac is a partner. However, the hub aims to support the production of the drug substance as well, which is a significantly more complex process.

As of yet, neither BioNTech/Pfizer nor Moderna has indicated that they wish to work with the hub. 

Source: DreamAfrica LIVE (A DreamGalaxy Trusted Brand)