[Ip-health] WSJ Pfizer, BioNTech Join Halting Effort to Produce Covid-19 Vaccines in Africa

Baker, Brook b.baker at northeastern.edu
Wed Jul 21 09:07:18 PDT 2021

This is a far cry from full technology transfer to allow independent manufacture of mRNA vaccines and therapeutics.
This agreement is nothing more or less than a contract manufacturing agreement for sterile formulation, fill, and finish.  The final vaccine produced will be a BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine with marketing approval or emergency use authorization/listing under BioNTech/Pfizer’s regulatory dossiers.  Biovac will not be an “independent producer”- it will instead be a contract “subsidiary” facility, subject to rigid control by Pfizer.  In addition to the vaccine having a BioNTech/Pfizer “brand”, it will have a price set by them.

A somewhat more favorable aspect of the agreement is that the Biovac produced BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine will be distributed only to 55 countries in Africa, but that doesn’t mean that Biovac is really in charge of distribution.  But, at least vaccine manufactured in Africa will stay in Africa, unlike the initial J&J agreement with Aspen Pharmacare.

The announcement does not indicate the technology transfer/sharing agreement would ever result in the ability of Biovac to produce the mRNA active ingredient.  Thus, the underlying mRNA tech platform continues to be exclusively controlled by BioNTech/Pfizer, and Biovac will not be given the ability to further develop its own internal technical capacity and expertise that might allow it to manufacture other mRNA vaccines and therapeutics in the future.  BioNTech and Pfizer thereby signal their enduring intention to maintain monopoly rights over their basic mRNA technology.

Pfizer, BioNTech Join Halting Effort to Produce Covid-19 Vaccines in Africa
Drugmakers face growing pressure from U.S., Europe to address global vaccine inequity
Alexandra Wexler
 in Johannesburg and
Jared S. Hopkins
 in New York
Updated July 21, 2021 11:09 am ET


Pfizer<https://nam12.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.wsj.com%2Fmarket-data%2Fquotes%2FPFE&data=04%7C01%7Cb.baker%40northeastern.edu%7Cdd8f021257584cf5092e08d94c5fff72%7Ca8eec281aaa34daeac9b9a398b9215e7%7C0%7C0%7C637624797460485048%7CUnknown%7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7C1000&sdata=wJKv01P0mHCpO3Q9rausiCHB1GN%2BXPZLYNsrn7A8AFg%3D&reserved=0> Inc. and its partner BioNTech SE<https://nam12.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.wsj.com%2Fmarket-data%2Fquotes%2FBNTX&data=04%7C01%7Cb.baker%40northeastern.edu%7Cdd8f021257584cf5092e08d94c5fff72%7Ca8eec281aaa34daeac9b9a398b9215e7%7C0%7C0%7C637624797460490036%7CUnknown%7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7C1000&sdata=Xp6Ta7m59k0ugMOv1H2BnMvG8JdAapeOioItWV2ruiI%3D&reserved=0> said Wednesday that their Covid-19 vaccine will be partly produced in South Africa from next year, joining a halting effort to manufacture shots on a continent that has been left behind in the global fight against the pandemic.

The deal—under which the Cape Town-based Biovac Institute will fill vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and ready them for shipment—follows growing pressure from the U.S., Europe and international organizations for drugmakers to do more to tackle global inequities in accessing Covid-19 shots. They said Biovac will deliver more than 100 million doses annually once its plant is fully operational next year.


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