Last month when Pfizer and BioNTech revealed an agreement to manufacture their COVID-19 vaccines in South Africa, the companies promised that South America was next.
Five weeks later, Pfizer and BioNTech have lived up to their pledge. On Thursday, the companies unveiled an alliance with Eurofarma Laboratories of Brazil to produce their Comirnaty vaccine for distribution in Latin America.
Scale up will begin immediately, the companies said. Eurofarma will receive bulk drug substance from the United States and begin the production of finished doses in 2022. The companies say they will manufacture more than 100 million doses annually through the agreement.
The pact stretches the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine network to more than 20 facilities on four continents. Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said in a release that the companies will continue to “pursue opportunities such as this to help ensure that vaccines are available to all who are in need.”
As the world’s runaway leader in COVID vaccine production, Pfizer and BioNTech have delivered more than 1.3 billion doses to more than 120 countries and territories.
Of the more than 3 billion doses the companies expect to deliver this year, 1 billion are slated for low- and middle-income countries, with half of those doses supplied at the companies’ not-for-profit price to the U.S. for donation to the Africa Union and the COVAX worldwide relief effort.
The deal comes two weeks after the Pan American Health Organization said it would begin supplying COVID-19 vaccines to Latin America this fall. In announcing the effort, PAHO, which is part of the World Health Organization, acknowledged that the United Nations-backed COVAX push was falling short.
“Our region needs to pursue all possible avenues to expedite access and ensure countries reach their vaccination goals,” PAHO director Carissa Etienne said in a release. “We still need more donations and we still need COVAX to deliver on its original commitment.”
Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine deal last month with Biovac of South Africa was structured similarly to the one announced on Thursday. It provides for the production of more than 100 million doses annually for distribution throughout the continent. Biovac’s Cape Town factory will handle fill-finish after receiving drug substance from facilities in Europe.