By Grace Audu (HEALTH CORRESPONDENT)
BioNTech and Pfizer, the producers of the Covid-19 vaccine, announced that they had identified a South African partner to develop the vaccine for the first time on the African continent.
The decision comes amid mounting criticism of vaccine inequity, which has seen impoverished countries fall behind richer countries in the race to protect people from the coronavirus.
According to the firms, Biovac, based in Cape Town, will complete the final step in the production process of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, known as “fill and finish.”
The project will take some time to get off the ground, with the first Pfizer vaccines made in Africa not expected until 2022.
Biovac is expected to produce more than 100 million doses per year once it is up and operating, which will be given to the African Union’s 55 member countries.
“This is a major step forward in ensuring long-term access to a vaccine in the battle against this devastating, global pandemic,” said Morena Makhoana, CEO of Biovac.
The “technical transfer, on-site development and equipment installation activities will begin immediately,” the statement added.