Pfizer and BioNTech will start to manufacture their Covid-19 vaccine in South Africa, they announced jointly on Wednesday, in a move that could significantly increase the availability of doses across the continent next year.
When fully operational, the companies said annual vaccine production would exceed 100 million doses, to be distributed exclusively within African countries.
In a statement, the companies said they signed a letter of intent with the Biovac Institute in Cape Town to transfer technology, install equipment, and develop manufacturing capability. The raw material for the vaccines will be transported from Europe and the first doses will be produced in 2022.
Vaccination rates across Africa remain extremely low, with just over 20 million full vaccine doses administered to a population of over 1.3 billion, according to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), which says only 1.5% of the population has been fully vaccinated. Several countries including Mali, Niger and Ethiopia have hardly administered any doses per 100 people. – CNN