From 2022, Pfizer and Biotech Laboratories in Cape Town, South Africa will be increasingly supplying the final stage production of their COVID-19 vaccine to the African continent, where dosage shortages will slow down immune campaigns.
The American-German duo joined the BioWack Group with the aim of delivering 100 million doses a year exclusively to “55 member states of the African Union”, in a press release describing the alliance’s first partnership outside of Europe and North America.
The serum is sent from the European factories of both laboratories, so the messenger has control over the production of RNA, which is a very delicate and crucial step. The bottling stage takes place in Cape Town.
The installation of the machinery required to participate in the transfer and manufacture of the technology will begin “immediately”, a statement said.
“This is a crucial step in strengthening sustainable access to vaccines,” he said, adding that “cooperation will enable the distribution of doses more widely to people in difficult-to-access communities, especially on the African continent.” Of BioWalk.
Geographical disparities in the wake of the epidemic continue to shine, with developed countries setting up all-round vaccination programs on the one hand, and poorer countries lagging far behind: 1.6% of the world’s dose is administered in Africa, according to data compiled by AFP, although it still represents 17% of the world’s population.
“This is great and good news,” John Nkengsong, director of the African Center for Disease Prevention and Control (Africa CDC), told AFP.
In the fight against the epidemic, he said, “every action counts.”
The WHO recently estimated that only 2% of Africans, or 16 million people, are fully immunized.
Currently, another vaccine against COVID-19, single-dose Johnson from Johnson & Johnson, is being bottled at a factory in South Africa.
Suspension of patents?
To speed up the vaccine campaign, many developing countries and NGOs are calling for the abolition of patents to allow massive production.
Unlike Germany, Washington and Paris are favored, preferring production deals such as biotech.
“The weakening of intellectual property actually discourages innovation,” said Albert Bourla, owner of the American laboratory, in a text message addressed to the WTO.
“The challenges of ensuring an equal distribution of the vaccine do not come from any patents,” he said.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is leading the fight for the temporary abolition of intellectual property, wants to make his country a hub for the production of messenger RNA vaccines.
“We can see that vaccines made outside of Africa can never be counted because they never come,” he explained when COVID Messenger launched a “technology transfer center” for RNA vaccines in late June – the first step to donate to the continent with its own production capacity.
In the wake of the proliferation of the Delta variant, before production on the site అంతర్జాతీయ too late to respond to the current increase in cases, Africa relied mainly on international Kovacs policy and donations, which come in small quantities.
As of July 20, the Kovacs system, which guarantees equal access to COVID vaccines lagging countries, has delivered over 135 million doses in 136 countries.
Bourla said Pfizer and BioMtech will continue to “do their part” to expand the production network, especially in Latin America.
“We aim to start our vaccine production and distribution across all continents,” said Ugur Sahin, co-founder and director of Biotech.
One billion doses have been distributed to more than 100 countries or territories so far.
BioWack is already producing the Prevenor 13 vaccine for Pfizer against pneumococcal infections.