Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

For Immediate Release

Contact

Joe Karp-Sawey, media manager
Tel: +44 (0)7711 875 345
Email:
joe.karpsawey@globaljustice.org.uk

Press Release

Pop-up vaccine factories for Africa labeled 'neo-colonial stunt'

German vaccine giant BioNTech’s move is an attempt to stall pressure for wider tech transfer, campaigners say

Responding to BioNTech’s ‘modular mRNA manufacturing facility to promote scalable vaccine production in Africa’ (1), Tim Bierley, pharma campaigner at Global Justice Now said:

“After a year of stalling efforts to scale up global vaccine production, BioNTech’s pop-up vaccine factories are little more than a neo-colonial stunt to try and maintain control of this life-saving technology in Africa.

“Under the first phase of the plan, BioNTech will use European staff to manage their ‘shipping containers’, while local producers are relegated to putting the vaccines into bottles. Any possibility of knowledge transfer is pushed off far into the future. This is inexcusable when we know there are several factories in Africa with the capacity to create these kinds of vaccines today, if BioNTech and others were willing to share the tech in this global emergency.(2)

“With South Africa’s vaccine hub already having success in reverse engineering the Moderna vaccine, this looks like a last-ditch attempt to make sure mRNA technology remains in Western hands as long as possible. You would struggle to do less to support local vaccine production in Africa while still technically making some vaccines in Africa.”

The announcement follows reports in the BMJ last week that BioNTech has been accused of seeking to undermine efforts to bring vaccine manufacturing to Africa through a foundation. (3)

Notes

1. BioNTech introduces first modular mRNA manufacturing facility to promote scalable vaccine production in Africa, https://investors.biontech.de/news-releases/news-release-details/biontech-introduces-first-modular-mrna-manufacturing-facility

2. In December, experts including MSF, AccessIBSA and Human Rights Watch identified more than 100 global south manufacturers capable of producing mRNA vaccines, https://www.hrw.org/news/2021/12/15/experts-identify-100-plus-firms-make-covid-19-mrna-vaccines

3. Covid-19: WHO efforts to bring vaccine manufacturing to Africa are undermined by the drug industry, documents show, https://www.bmj.com/content/376/bmj.o304

###

Global Justice Now is a democratic social justice organisation working as part of a global movement to challenge the powerful and create a more just and equal world. We mobilise people in the UK for change, and act in solidarity with those fighting injustice, particularly in the global south.

'The Problem is Corporate Greed, Boss': Bezos Blasted for Defense of Big Oil Price-Gouging

'Bezos scared," said one progressive economist after the world's second-richest person went to bat for Big Oil.

Jon Queally ·


Bodycam Footage Shows Ohio Police Shooting Jayland Walker 60+ Times

"The Department of Justice needs to step in to investigate immediately," said former Ohio state Sen. Nina Turner.

Common Dreams staff ·


'Impeach Justice Clarence Thomas' Petition Nears 1 Million Signatures

"He has shown he cannot be an impartial justice and is more concerned with covering up his wife's coup attempts than the health of the Supreme Court," reads the petition.

Jake Johnson ·


'Tipping Point of No Return' Feared as Amazon Rainforest Fires Surge

"Up to now, the Biden administration has only legitimized the Brazilian government's anti-Indigenous and anti-environmental agenda," said Greenpeace USA.

Jake Johnson ·


Biden Urged to Embrace Windfall Tax as Exxon Says Profits Doubled in Second Quarter

"It's time for the president to demand that Congress pass a windfall profits tax on Big Oil and use the revenue to provide rebates to consumers NOW!" wrote Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Jake Johnson ·

Common Dreams Logo