BioNTech SE is discussing the possibility of Covid-19 vaccine production sites in Africa to expand the company’s supply network in regions around the world, said CEO Ugur Sahin.
“I can imagine a production network in South America and for Africa,” Sahin said at a briefing with members of the German Foreign Press Association. “We are also talking about African production sites.”
Although BioNTech and its US partner Pfizer have pledged to make 2.5 billion doses of their two-injection vaccine this year, the vast majority are linked to lucrative contracts with the world’s richest countries. Africa follows the rest of the world in accessing the personnel needed to immunize its more than a billion inhabitants. Globally, countries with the highest incomes are vaccinated about 25 times faster than countries with the lowest, according to Bloomberg’s book on vaccine monitoring.
Sahin said that he met with representatives of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, earlier on Wednesday, on how to make more recordings more accessible in low-income countries.
Giving up patent rights to the vaccine is not the solution, the CEO said, adding that BioNTech wants to avoid spreading versions of its footage. Instead, it would be a special license for the competent producers, although he said that such production will not be able to help supply until the end of next year.
“We don’t want to see a qualitatively inferior vaccine in Africa,” Sahin said. “Everything must be certified. That is why we are talking to organizations about granting licenses for certified manufacturers. “
African epidemiologists and some politicians have said the continent needs to develop its own vaccine production. Currently, the ability to make vaccines of any kind – and mostly just packaging images, instead of producing them – is limited to South Africa, Senegal and Egypt on the continent.
South African company Aspen Pharmacare Holdings has agreed to produce as many as 300 million Johnson & Johnson Covid injections a year at the plant it owns in the country. The state-owned Biovac Institute plans to build a factory of active pharmaceutical ingredients at a cost of as much as 200 million euros ($ 241 million) to film Covid in partnership with ImmunitiBio Inc.
“The biggest lesson the vaccine has taught us is the critical urgency for Africa to develop, produce and distribute its own biotechnology,” South African Health Minister Zveli Mkhize said in a speech on April 7.
There is a business case for the production of vaccines produced in Africa, and it is also crucial to ensure that the virus is defeated globally, Mkhize said on Wednesday, speaking at the panel.
“This should be understood as an act of investment, not charitable action,” he said. “Our inability to diversify vaccine production will make the continent very vulnerable, because everyone will concentrate on their variants, which means that the pandemic will start again.”
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