More than a year after Pfizer and BioNTech brought Biovac into their global vaccine manufacturing network, the South African vaccine producer has made its first batch of the mRNA shot.
Biovac finished its first doses last week at its facility in Cape Town, Bloomberg reports. Before Biovac starts on its next production batch, the first set of shots will be evaluated by the South African Health Regulatory Products Authority, Morena Makhoana, Biovac’s CEO, said in an interview with Bloomberg. Subsequent doses are set to be sold commercially starting next year.
Last July, Pfizer and BioNTech tapped Biovac to help made COVID-19 vaccine doses in Africa. The South African company, which is partly owned by the government, is on an expansion spree and expects to employ as many as 584 people at the end of this year, Bloomberg reports.
Throughout the pandemic, vaccine makers have faced scrutiny for not making more of an effort to supply doses to low- and middle-income countries. Many of the top producers responded by pledging manufacturing investments and inking deals with local partners to bolster supply.
Last October, Moderna said it would shell out $500 million to build a “state-of-the-art” mRNA facility in Kenya to produce up to 500 million vaccine doses a year. At the time, the company aimed to get the plant operational and ready to fill doses in Africa by 2023.