Major Covid-19 vaccine producers, BioNTech and Pfizer have revealed that their vaccines will be produced in South Africa.
This deal will be the first of its kind in the African continent, as the companies have partnered with South African based pharmaceutical company, Biovac.
The Biovac company based in Cape Town will be responsible for the last step in the vaccine manufacturing process, also known as the "fill and finish" step.
"This is a critical step forward in strengthening sustainable access to a vaccine in the fight against this tragic, worldwide pandemic," said Biovac chief executive officer Morena Makhoana.
While this is great news for the country, it will take some time for these vaccines to be produced. BioNTech and Pfizer have estimated that the vaccines will not be ready before 2022.
Once the vaccine production is in full swing, Biovac will "fill and finish" more than 100 million doses annually. These vaccine doses will be distributed to 55 countries in the African Union.
This new development in vaccine production is also meant to address vaccine nationalism, which President Cyril Ramaphosa called out in June.
“Countries of the north, with more developed economies now have vaccinated about 50% of their citizens and have less hospitalisation, while countries in the developing world are still struggling to access vaccines.” the President said.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) also recently estimated that only two percent of the African population (around 16 million people) have been fully vaccinated.
This is a very big difference, compared to countries in the north, who have managed to roll out vaccines to the majority of their populations.
BioNTech's co-founder and CEO, Ugur Sahin said the new partnership with Biovac will ensure that all continents are able to manufacture and distribute vaccines to their populations.
"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 Sahin.