A consortium of nine partners will support Biovac’s expansion of its South African manufacturing plant capacity in an effort to boost production of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine.
Biovac will raise about $150 million to boost local capacity, in an effort to get doses across Africa. Partners include the African Development Bank (AfDB), CDC Group, German financial group DEG, the US International Development Finance Corporation, and France’s Proparco.
“Covid-19 has proven that a more geographical spread of vaccine manufacturing is much needed globally, with the African continent having the least number of vaccine manufacturers. We are pleased that the consortium of funders is willing to work with Biovac to create sustainable African vaccine manufacturing, not only to respond to the current pandemic, but also to much needed routine vaccines and future pandemic vaccines as well,” Biovac’s CFO Craig Mitchell said in a statement.
The consortium is part of the 2030 Pharmaceutical Action Plan for Africa, which aims to increase local production of pharmaceuticals by 70% by 2030 and vaccines by 60% by 2040. It’s all part of a goal to get Africa closer to self-sufficiency.
After production pledges, Covid-19 test demand has plummeted
Just in January, as the demand for at-home Covid-19 tests had skyrocketed, US President Joe Biden announced a plan to make 1 billion Covid-19 tests available for free, doubling a pledge of 500 million. Manufacturer Abbott Laboratories warned publicly that there could be a shortage of supplies, as the Omicron wave coupled with the US holidays resulted in sold-out shelves and municipalities enacting free testing programs.
But now as the Omicron variant has gotten under control, demand for the at-home tests has fallen. A spokesperson for CVS told CNN that the retailer has seen a steep decline in tests, and out of all the free at-home tests made available, fewer than 300 million have been ordered.
Test makers, like Quidenl, Roche and Abbott, which all have contracts with the White House, will continue to ramp up production, but companies fear that without a guaranteed purchase agreement, there could be an excess in manufacturing.