Pfizer will turn to a factory in Africa to help supply the continent

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Pfizer and BioNTech said Wednesday they have reached an agreement with a South African vaccine manufacturer starting next year. Addressing the final stages of production for doses of Covid vaccines that will only be supplied to African countries.

The deal represents the first time Pfizer’s Covid vaccine will be partially produced in Africa and could eventually help increase supply to a continent driven by months of severe vaccine shortages. only 1.5 percent number of fully vaccinated people.

But the deal comes with caveats that will significantly limit its impact at a time when the rapidly spreading Delta variant is causing a spike. infections and hospitalizations and sent the continent into the most devastating phase of its pandemic.

Most importantly, South African manufacturer Biovac will handle distribution and “fill-to-finish”, the final stage of the production process where the vaccine is placed in bottles and packaged for shipping. It will rely on Pfizer facilities in Europe to make the vaccine and ship it to its Cape Town facility.

Public health activists have called on Pfizer and other major vaccine manufacturers to transfer their technology to local manufacturers in poorer parts of the world. To speed up and lighten production deficiencies Sharing recipes in this way can be voluntary or mandatory.

Matthew Kavanagh, director of Georgetown University’s Global Health Policy and Policy Initiative, described Wednesday’s agreement as “deeply disappointing.”

“What we’re seeing from all these licensing deals that are fill-in-only and leave full production capacity to high-income country producers is that they continue to perpetuate inequalities in distribution,” Kavanagh said.

Pamela Eisele, a company spokesperson, said that as it seeks to rapidly scale up its Covid vaccine production, Pfizer is “focusing primarily on multiple existing facilities, looking to external contract manufacturers to support important fill-and-finish and distribution steps.”

Pfizer has committed to supply two billion doses of vaccine to low- and middle-income countries through various channels by the end of 2022, but only a small fraction of these doses have been delivered so far.

Pfizer said that work will begin immediately to transfer technology and install the necessary equipment at Biovac’s facility. Pfizer said the facility could fill and finish more than 100 million doses per year at full capacity, but did not say when that would be achieved. The company said these doses will only be provided to the 55 member states that make up the African Union.

Pfizer’s CEO, Dr. “I want to say to people who have expressed their concerns that Africa is lagging behind, in part because of a lack of vaccine production, that we hear you,” said Albert Bourla in statements he prepared at a meeting. by the World Trade Organization on Wednesday.

But Mr Kavanagh said he was concerned Pfizer wouldn’t ship enough drugs to Cape Town, especially if rich countries seek third booster vaccines for their populations. In this scenario, “what is the probability that most of the drugs will shift to Africa to get the first vaccines rather than supplements in high-income countries that pay more and have the political power to demand it?” said.



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