Responding to the announcement that BioNTech plans to ship mobile vaccine factory containers to Africa, which could start producing vaccines in the second half of 2023, Oxfam’s Health Policy Manager, Anna Marriott, said:
“Efforts to boost vaccine manufacturing in Africa are welcome but this is a long-term project and should not distract from the failure of rich country governments and companies, including Germany and BioNTech, to tackle today’s shameful vaccine inequality responsible for millions of needless deaths in poorer countries from this pandemic.
“It is unacceptable that BioNTech, along with other pharma giants, is ignoring the World health Organisation’s mRNA Hub in Africa which is ready to produce vaccines and expand manufacturing in favour of a BioNTech controlled vaccine container module that won’t be producing vaccines for well over a year.
“To date, Germany has exported just one per cent of its vaccines to the African continent. If Germany is serious about tackling vaccine inequality it must reverse its refusal to support the waiving of intellectual property rules for these life-saving pandemic tools and insist BioNTech transfer their technology now to the WHO so that existing manufacturers across Africa, Latin America and Asia can make them.
“Serious questions must also be raised about BioNTech’s objectives with this initiative. Last week it was revealed that a consultancy on BioNTech’s payroll, the kENUP Foundation, is trying to undermine the work of a World Health Organisation and South African-led project to make mRNA COVID vaccines as a global public good and free of big pharma’s control.”