South Africa Will Manufacture Life-Saving Vaccine
South Africa to Manufacture Life-Saving Vaccine. Photo: iStockphoto / sezer ozger

South Africa’s state-backed vaccine manufacturer Biovac is to start making the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in the second half of next year. This will be a first for Africa.

The company plans to be producing at least 100 million doses annually from 2023.

Pfizer made the announcement on their website today (Wed 21 July). The collaboration between Pfizer and BioNTech with the Biovac Institute will see the Cape Town-based firm produce Covid-19 vaccines to distribute to the 55 states within the African Union.

A letter of intent for the collaboration has been signed.


Technical transfer, on-site development and equipment installation activities will begin at Biovac immediately.

Pfizer and BioNTech expect that Biovac’s Cape Town facility will be incorporated into the vaccine supply chain by the end of 2021. Biovac will obtain drug substance from facilities in Europe, and manufacturing of finished doses will commence in 2022.

“From day one, our goal has been to provide fair and equitable access of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine to everyone, everywhere,” said Albert Bourla, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Pfizer.

“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 Ugur Sahin, M.D., CEO and Co-founder of BioNTech. “We believe that our mRNA technology can be used to develop vaccine candidates addressing other diseases as well. This is why we will continue to evaluate sustainable approaches that will support the development and production of mRNA vaccines on the African continent.”

Dr. Morena Makhoana, CEO of Biovac, said: “We are thrilled to collaborate with Pfizer and BioNTech to produce and distribute the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine within Africa. This is testament of 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 opportunity to more broadly distribute vaccine doses to people in harder-to-reach communities, especially those on the African continent.”

To date, Pfizer and BioNTech have shipped more than 1 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses to more than 100 countries or territories in every region of the world.

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine, which is based on BioNTech’s proprietary mRNA technology, was developed by both BioNTech and Pfizer.