Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE announced the signing of a letter of intent with The Biovac Institute (Pty) Ltd, known as “Biovac,” a Cape Town-based, South African biopharmaceutical company, to manufacture the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine for distribution within the African Union.
Biovac will perform manufacturing and distribution activities within Pfizer’s and BioNTech’s global COVID-19 vaccine supply chain and manufacturing network, which will now span three continents and include more than 20 manufacturing facilities. To facilitate Biovac’s involvement in the process, technical transfer, on-site development and equipment installation activities will begin immediately.
Pfizer and BioNTech expect that Biovac’s Cape Town facility will be incorporated into the vaccine supply chain by the end of 2021. Biovac will obtain drug substance from facilities in Europe, and manufacturing of finished doses will commence in 2022. At full operational capacity, the annual 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.
“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.”
“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.”
Pfizer and BioNTech select contract manufacturers using a rigorous selection process based on several factors: quality, compliance, safety track record, technical capability, capacity availability, highly trained workforce, project management abilities, prior working relationship, and commitment to working with flexibility through a fast-paced program. Pfizer and Biovac have worked together since 2015 on the sterile formulation, fill, finish and distribution of the Prevenar 13 vaccine.
To date, Pfizer and BioNTech have shipped more than 1 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses to more than 100 countries or territories in every region of the world. The companies are firmly committed to working towards equitable and affordable access for COVID-19 vaccines for all people around the world, actively working with global governments as well as global health partners with the aim to provide 2 billion doses to low and middle income countries in 2021 and 2022 – 1 billion each year. This includes an agreement to supply 500 million doses to the U.S. Government at a not-for-profit price, that the government will, in turn, donate to the African Union and the COVAX 92 Advanced Market Commitment (AMC) countries, as well as a direct supply agreement with the COVAX facility for 40 million doses.
The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine, which is based on BioNTech’s proprietary mRNA technology, was developed by both BioNTech and Pfizer. BioNTech is the Marketing Authorization Holder in the European Union, and the holder of emergency use authorizations or equivalent in the United States (jointly with Pfizer), Canada and other countries in advance of a planned application for full marketing authorizations in these countries.