Facing international pressure, Pfizer looks to manufacture vaccines in Africa

July 21, 2021

Pfizer and BioNTech announced this week that they are launching COVID-19 vaccine production in South Africa.

Facing criticism that Big Pharma companies are not doing enough to distribute vaccines in Africa, the companies said that they will join forces with Cape Town-based Biovac Institute, who will fill and distribute the shots. Once the production plans are in place next year, the goal is for Biovac to deliver more than 100 million doses of the vaccine each year. 

The continent will need more than that, however, to make progress in the quest for herd immunity. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, just 1.5% of Africa’s 1.3 billion people have been inoculated.   

But COVAX, which is hoping to distribute vaccines to 135 countries, has locked in deals with manufacturers for 3.8 billion doses — about half of which are expected to be ready by the end of this year.

Still, many in Africa believe that the continent’s best chance of overcoming the pandemic is to manufacture its own shots. 

“The only way to solve this is to allow Africa to produce,” a Zimbabwean business tycoon, Strive Masiyiwa, said last month.