Health Dept excited to see SA firm tapped to supply COVID vaccines for Africa

Cape Town-based Biovac Institute has entered into a partnership with Pfizer, which will see it finalising and supplying vaccines for the African Union, benefitting 55 countries.

FILE: This file picture taken on November 23, 2020 shows a bottle reading "Vaccine COVID-19" next to US pharmaceutical company Pfizer and German biotechnology company BioNTech logos. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - The Health Department is excited to see that a South African company had been entrusted with ensuring the supply of millions more COVID-19 vaccines for the continent.

Cape Town-based Biovac Institute has entered into a partnership with Pfizer, which will see it finalising and supplying vaccines for the African Union, benefitting 55 countries.

READ MORE: 55 AU member states to benefit from Pfizer vaccines produced in SA

Biovac will be involved in what is called the “fill and finish” stage - processing the product and packaging it.

It’s hoped that 100 million doses will be produced once the project is fully up and running.

The Health Department said that this partnership was encouraging and a confirmation that Africa would have an endless supply of COVID-19 vaccines.

Deputy Director-General Nicholas Crisp said that it was also reassuring that more than 50 countries stood to benefit from this.

"This is a longer-term strategy with a magnificent impact on the continent. If we don't protect people in the countries surrounding us, it's no good either. COVID isn't something that's just with us for this year, it's likely to see us getting booster shots for a long time to come."

Biovac CEO Morena Makhoana said that the company had started setting up all the required technology that would allow for a conducive environment for the finalising process.

"We've yet to go deeper into the technical know-how behind the BioNTech plant or the value chain."

Pfizer said that this collaboration showed the tireless work being done to pursue and explore opportunities for the benefit of the African continent.

Vaccine manufacturers, who are all international, have come under scrutiny during the coronavirus pandemic for not sharing the mRNA sequence to help other countries manufacture vaccines, which could help poorer states without vaccines access them much quicker.

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