The multinational Pfizer-BioNTech consortium has reached a deal with Brazilian laboratories Eurofarma to produce its famous COVID-19 vaccine in the South American country, it was announced Thursday.
As per the agreement, more than 100 million doses are expected to be distributed starting in 2022 throughout Brazil and other Latin American countries.
The American Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech issued a statement together with Eurofarma Laboratórios SA explaining the details of the deal, which will involve a technology transfer, on-site development and equipment installation due to start shortly.
The Brazilian laboratory will receive the raw material from Pfizer's facilities in the United States. Once achieved, it will be the fourth continent where the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is produced in over 20 plants. So far, more than 1.3 billion doses have been delivered to more than 120 countries worldwide.
Seven of the 20 countries with the highest mortality rates from COVID-19 are in Latin America. Only 23% of the population has completed a vaccination treatment, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Everyone, regardless of their economic status, race, religion or geography, deserves to have access to vaccines against COVID-19, which save lives, said Pfizer President Albert Bourla. Our new joint venture with Eurofarma expands the global supply chain network, helping us provide fair and equitable access to our vaccine, he added.
Bourla also explained that we will continue to explore and seek opportunities like this to ensure that they are available to all who need them.
BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin pointed out that the announced agreement is an important step to expand access to vaccines in Latin America, and beyond, by expanding the global manufacturing network.
Maurizio Billi, president of Eurofarma, said that the Brazilian pharmaceutical company is making available the best resources in industrial capacity, technology and quality for this project, to fulfil the contract with excellence and contribute to the supply of the Latin American market.
Before Thursday's announcement, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) had disclosed it was working on an initiative to transfer messenger RNA technology vaccines to Latin America. So far, 30 companies and public and private institutions throughout the region have expressed interest in participating in the initiative. PAHO is expected to announce the selected ones in September.
Messenger RNA technology, also known as mRNA, is used in the manufacture of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. It is a vaccine that does not contain any viruses and cannot cause accidental infection. It uses part of the genetic code to train the immune system to recognize the proteins present on the surface of the virus and prepares it to attack it in case of infection.