When fully operational, the companies said annual vaccine production would exceed 100 million doses, to be distributed exclusively within African countries.
In a statement, the companies said they signed a letter of intent with the Biovac Institute in Cape Town to transfer technology, install equipment, and develop manufacturing capability. The raw material for the vaccines will be transported from Europe and the first doses will be produced in 2022.
The announcement received a positive response. “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,” John Nkengasong, the director of the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told CNN.
There have been steady calls from countries including India and South Africa to waive the intellectual property rights on vaccine technology — part of ongoing negotiations at the World Trade Organization.