Pfizer and BioNTech have teamed up with South Africa-based biopharmaceutical firm Biovac to manufacture and distribute their Covid-19 vaccine in the African Union.

Under the partnership, Biovac will undertake manufacturing and distribution activities within Pfizer and BioNTech’s global Covid-19 vaccine supply chain and manufacturing network.

The network currently spans three continents and includes more than 20 manufacturing facilities.

Pfizer and BioNTech intend to immediately commence technical transfer, on-site development and equipment installation activities for the partnership with Biovac.

Pfizer chairman and CEO Albert Bourla said: “From day one, our goal has been to provide fair and equitable access of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 Vaccine to everyone, everywhere.

“Our latest collaboration with Biovac is a shining example of the tireless work being done, in this instance to benefit Africa.

“We will continue to explore and pursue opportunities to bring new partners into our supply chain network, including in Latin America, to further accelerate the access of Covid-19 vaccines.”

As part of the partnership, Biovac’s facility in Cape Town is expected to be incorporated into Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine supply chain by the end of this year.

Biovac would procure drug substances from various European facilities and start manufacturing finished doses in 2022.

The partnership is expected to produce more than 100 million finished vaccine doses annually, at full operational capacity.

All the vaccine doses produced under the partnership are intended to be exclusively distributed within the 55 member states of the African Union.

The Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 Vaccine was developed based on BioNTech’s unique mRNA technology and was granted authorisation in the EU, the US, Canada and other countries.

The companies claim that they have shipped more than one billion Covid-19 vaccine doses to more than 100 countries in every region of the world.

Biovac CEO Morena Makhoana said: “We are thrilled to collaborate with Pfizer and BioNTech to produce and distribute the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 Vaccine within Africa.

“This is a testament to the long-standing relationship we have had with Pfizer through the Prevenar 13 vaccine. This is a critical step forward in strengthening sustainable access to a vaccine in the fight against this tragic, worldwide pandemic.

“We believe this collaboration will create an opportunity to more broadly distribute vaccine doses to people in harder-to-reach communities, especially those on the African continent.”

Earlier this month, Pfizer and BioNTech announced their plans to file submissions with the FDA, EMA and other agencies for regulatory approval of a booster dose of their Covid-19 vaccine.