Biovac to manufacture and distribute Pfizer-BioNtech Covid-19 vaccine doses within Africa
21 July 2021
Cape Town based, specialist biotech company, Biovac, has been appointed to manufacture the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine for distribution within the African Union, making it the first company in Africa to produce an mRNA-based vaccine.
Biovac is set to immediately commence technical transfer activities, which includes on-site development and equipment installation activities. Biovac will obtain drug substance from facilities in Europe, and manufacturing of finished doses will commence in 2022. At full operational capacity, the annual COVID-19 vaccine production will exceed 100 million finished doses annually. All doses will exclusively be distributed within the 55 member states that make up the African Union. Biovac expects the facility will be brought into the Pfizer-BioNTech supply chain by the end of 2021.
“We are thrilled to collaborate with Pfizer and BioNTech to produce and distribute the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine within Africa. This is testament of the long-standing relationship we have had with Pfizer through the Prevenar 13 vaccine,” said Dr. Morena Makhoana, CEO of Biovac. “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.”
“From day one, our goal has been to provide fair and equitable access of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine to everyone, everywhere,” said Albert Bourla, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Pfizer. “Our latest collaboration with Biovac is a shining example of the tireless work being done, in this instance to benefit Africa. We will continue to explore and pursue opportunities to bring new partners into our supply chain network, including in Latin America, to further accelerate access of COVID-19 vaccines.”
“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 Ugur Sahin, M.D., CEO and Co-founder of BioNTech. “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.”
Biovac has a long-standing relationship with Pfizer that commenced with local distribution activities in 2008 of Prevenar to the Department of Health. This evolved to a technology transfer agreement of Prevenar 13 which has been successfully concluded. This latest technology transfer agreement strengthens the already existing relationship and enables Biovac to widen its existing footprint in Africa, which aligns with our long-standing vision of being a local manufacturer with regional presence and relevance.
Biovac was established in 2003 as a public Private partnership between the South African government and a private consortium with the aim of reviving local human vaccine production in Southern Africa. Alongside the development of the local vaccine industry, through steep investment in local skills and modern facilities, the company has secured high profile technology transfers from international pharmaceutical companies including Pfizer and Sanofi Pasteur for the manufacturing of paediatric vaccines. The company currently supplies a comprehensive range of vaccines in support of the South African Department of Health’s Expanded Programme for Immunisation. In addition to supplying millions of doses of vaccines per year, across South Africa and into some neighbouring countries, Biovac has been distributing COVID19 vaccines in South Africa under various temperature conditions, including minus 70 degrees, minus 20 degrees and between 2 and 8 degrees.