‘Fill and Finish’ in South Africa

Pfizer and BioNTech have inked a letter of intent with South African biopharma company Biovac for it to ultimately "fill and finish" 100 million+ doses of the effective mRNA vaccine for Africa, Politico reports.

The deal brings Biovac into the Pfizer supply chain to complete production and distribute the vaccine starting next year. The “vaccine substance” (the active ingredient) will still be produced in Europe, Bhekisisa notes.

Biovac is also a partner in WHO’s tech transfer hub that will train manufacturers in low- and middle-income countries to produce mRNA vaccines.

But: The process is complex and would take months of work before a vaccine could be produced, reports Bhekisisa. And before the tech transfer could even begin, a proposal for the temporary suspension of COVID-19-related technologies would have to be adopted by the World Trade Organization. And then legal wrangling would begin.

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