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South African Pharmaceutical Inks Deal with Pfizer and BioNTech to Produce/Distribute Vaccine for Africa

by Felix Omondi

Image by torstensimon from Pixabay

The continent of Africa is home to 1.3 billion people. Sadly, less than 2% of this population has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccines. Undoubtedly, the continent is mainly walking on dangerous grounds, especially since developed nations whose native pharmaceutical companies have developed a vaccine are not producing enough for export.

Indeed we have seen many nations nationalizing the vaccine and ensuring all their citizens are on the frontline to receive the vaccine shots. A move that has left countries that are not locally producing the vaccines at the mercy of those making the vaccine.

Vaccine Production in Africa

It has become apparent that if countries are waiting on other countries for the vaccine, the wait will be long, and many lives might be lost. The World Health Organization has called on nations producing the vaccine to allow free sharing of intellectual properties with the rest of the world.

These calls came against a backdrop of some pharmaceutical companies mulling taking their products to market for purely commercial benefits. That move would have made the vaccine inaccessible to a large number of people across the world.

A South African pharmaceutical company Biovac Institute has come to an agreement with Pfizer and BioNTech to manufacture and distribute the vaccine across Africa. The Cape Town-based pharmaceutical is set to produce 100 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine annually. Production is set to start in 2022.

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Top-Up Assembly and Shipping

The Biovac Institute will receive ingredients of the Pfizer vaccine from Europe, mix it in their labs, put them in vails, and distribute it across Africa. The pharmaceutical is targetting to ship to all the 54 nations across the African continent.

This move will hopefully address the extreme shortage of the COVID-19 vaccine across the continent. It will also address issues of countries receiving their vaccine supplies too early than the distribution channels laid out can distribute before the expiry date. Such was the case in our earlier feature.

Africa Hit compared to other Continents

All is not doom and gloom on the African continent. Although a life lost is one life too many, the continent appears to have been somewhat resilient compared to other continents if statistics released by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) are anything to go by.

The stats released by ECDC as of July 15, 2021, shows the COVID-19 reported infections and death to be as follows:

Reported Infections per Continent

Reported Deaths per Continent

High Fatality Rate

Using the same data given by ECDC above, we find that of the reported cases of infection in Africa, the continent has the second-highest fatality rate; second only to America.

Fatality Rate

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