Biovac has become the first company in Africa to produce an mRNA-based vaccine
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Cape Town based specialist biotech company, Biovac, has become the first company in Africa to produce an mRNA-based vaccine following the announcement that it would manufacture the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for distribution among the AU-member states.
The company is set to immediately begin technical transfer activities which include on-site development and equipment installation activities.
Drug substances will be manufactured 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 AU.
Biovac expects the facility will be brought into the Pfizer-BioNTech supply chain by the end of 2021.
The company's chief executive, Dr Morena Makhoana, said: “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 pneumococcal conjugate vaccine
“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 an opportunity to more broadly distribute vaccine doses to people in harder-to-reach communities, especially those on the African continent,” Makhoana said.
Biovac has a long-standing relationship with Pfizer that commenced with local distribution activities in 2008 of their pneumo-conjugate vaccine to the Department of Health. This evolved to a technology transfer agreement of this vaccine, which has been successfully concluded.
Pfizer chairperson and chief executive Albert Bourla said the latest collaboration with Biovac was a shining example of the tireless work being done 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," Bourla said.
BioNTech chief executive and co-founder, Ugur Sahin, 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.”