German biopharmaceutical group, BioNTech SE, is discussing the possibility of Covid-19 vaccine production sites in Africa to expand the company’s supply network in regions around the world, Chief Executive Officer Ugur Sahin said.
“I can imagine a production network in South America and for Africa,” Sahin said at a briefing with members of Germany’s foreign press association, according to a Bloomberg report. “We are also talking about African production sites.”
Sahin said he had met with representatives from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, earlier on and Wednesday about how to make more shots available in low-income countries.
Giving up patent rights on the vaccine isn’t the solution, the CEO said, adding that BioNTech wants to avoid a proliferation of versions of its shot.
If BioNTech makes the move, it will become the forth company taking such giant step to explore vaccine production in Africa
Already, Ghana pharmaceutical industry has approached AstraZeneca Plc bout acquiring the rights to manufacture the U.K. company’s vaccine locally, a move that could boost supplies and speed up the inoculation program in the country
Though BioNTech and its U.S. partner Pfizer Inc, have committed to make 2.5 billion doses of their two-shot vaccine this year, the vast majority are tied up in lucrative contracts with the world’s wealthiest countries.
Africa trails the rest of the world in accessing the shots it needs to immunize its more than 1 billion residents. Globally, countries with the highest incomes are getting vaccinated about 25 times faster than those with the lowest, Bloomberg’s Vaccine Tracker shows.
“We don’t want to see a qualitatively inferior vaccine in Africa,” Sahin said.
“Everything has to be certified. This is why we’re talking to organizations about giving a license for certified producers.”
African epidemiologists and some politicians have said the continent needs to develop its own vaccine manufacturing.