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Pfizer’s African COVID-19 Vaccine Plan Threatened by Low Demand

Plans to produce Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine in Cape Town may be scaled back because of waning demand for the shots, according to the head of the company’s South African manufacturing partner.

About 100 million doses a year are slated to be packaged and filled at a plant controlled by the BioVac Institute, partly owned by the South African government, which would become the first Southern Hemisphere facility to use the messenger RNA technology underlying the Pfizer injection.

Yet demand for COVID-19 vaccines has fallen globally as countries start to adapt to the pandemic—even in Africa where COVID-19 vaccination rates are lowest. Aspen Pharmacare Holdings Ltd., the continent’s biggest drugmaker, said this month that it may close a line to make Johnson & Johnson’s dose in South Africa due to a lack of orders.

“As a manufacturer we are concerned about the picture that’s coming through,” Biovac Chief Executive Officer Morena Makhoana said. “At the rate things are going it will probably be less” than 100 million doses a year.

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