Good news, finally! With the Delta variant roaming around every corner, it seems that there is a chance of going back to normal, after all. Pfizer will start making their COVID-19 vaccine in South Africa, as well. This could increase the availability of the doses on the continent by a lot throughout the next year.
The annual vaccine production would be over 100 million doses, and it would be given exclusively to African countries. The company said that it had signed a letter of intent with the Biovac Institute in order to install the equipment and develop the manufacturing capacity. The material for the vaccines will come from Europe, and the first doses will be produced in 2022.
Africa’s population is over 1.3 billion, and only 20 million got vaccinated – that’s 1.5% of the population, according to WHO. Niger, Mali and Ethiopia have barely given any of the doses per 100 people.
John Nkengasong, director of the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stated: “It is great and welcome news that must be celebrated in the context of this pandemic as every action counts. I see this as a part of the collective action to address technology transfer and intellectual property.”
India and South Africa waived intellectual property rights when it came to vaccine technology. There has been an ongoing negotiation at the World Trade Organization.
The continent did not get the vaccine, as there has been a shortage of doses. Many of the doses had to come from the Serum Institute of India, but all exports were suspended after the second wave of COVID-19 in India. The exports will not start again until the end of the year.
South Sudan and Kenya are almost out, as well, and cases are now even more frequent. Africa has recorded a 43% rise in Covid-19 deaths.
South Africa is now on a strict lockdown – they have been since the end of June – and the country has to deal with a total of 63,000 Covid-19 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.