Pfizer’s Pneumococcal Vaccine Tech Transfer MoU in Egypt: What Impact?


Back in June 2022, Pfizer signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Egyptian Ministry of Health (MoH) to transfer the technology for producing its pneumococcal vaccine. The fifth highest selling drug in the world in 2020, Prevnar 13 is on the World Health Organization (WHO)’s list for use in routine immunisations given to children.


The event was attended by Higher Education and Scientific Research Minister and Acting Health Minister Khaled Abdel Ghaffar, Chairman of the Egyptian Authority for Unified Procurement and Medical Supplies Bahaa El Din Zidan, Head of the Egyptian Drug Authority (EDA) Tamer Essam, the acting US ambassador in Cairo and several Pfizer representatives.

Spokesman for the Health Ministry Khaled Abdel Ghaffar quoted the acting health minister as saying that the political leadership is highly interested in transferring and strengthening the technology of developing vaccines.

The acting health minister said he looks forward to seeing the MoU to take effect as soon as possible, given that the manufacture of pneumococcal vaccines in Egypt represents an important addition to the national program of vaccinations.

Pressed on the significance of the MoU in a recent PharmaBoardroom interview, Pfizer Egypt General Manager Ahmed El-Shazly was effusive about its potential, but cautioned that the MoU was an initial, exploratory step.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic showed, prevention and treatment are equally crucial in fighting threats to global health,” noted El-Shazly. “Pfizer has long been committed to these two goals, and we have been pleased to see that the Egyptian government shares this long-term commitment.


This crucial vaccine is given to children – the future of any country – and the Egyptian MoH recognises the importance of eventually being able to produce it domestically

Ahmed El-Shazly, Pfizer Egypt


“This crucial vaccine is given to children – the future of any country – and the Egyptian MoH recognises the importance of eventually being able to produce it domestically. The recent MoU that explores potential collaboration signals a willingness on the part of Pfizer to help meet this ambition, looking into the feasibility of doing technology transfer and finding the right local partners that adhere to our rigorous global quality standards.”

In terms of the reasons for choosing to explore this technology transfer in Egypt, El-Shazly added that “All of this reflects the importance of Egypt as a leading country within the MEA region, as well as its importance to Pfizer globally. For context, Egypt has a population of over 100 million today – a number that will rise to 160 million by 2050 -, an economy that is growing by 5.5 percent despite the COVID-19 pandemic, and governmental authorities eager to speedily absorb innovative products that contribute to the nation’s health.”

The pandemic has shone a light on the issue of vaccine access and equity more broadly. Pfizer has come under fire in recent years over the rollout of its BioNTech co-developed COVID-19 vaccine, with several poorer countries waiting for months after the earliest doses arrived in wealthier countries. In May, the firm moved to sell all its patented drugs at a non-profit price in low-income countries, including Egypt.

Well documented wrangles over intellectual property (IP) and patent protection around vaccines continue, with attempts by African scientists and institutions to reverse-engineer mRNA technology-based COVID vaccines hindered and condemned by the pharma companies that own the IP.

Pfizer, and indeed the Egyptian authorities, will be hoping that their latest MoU represents a workable new model that creates greater vaccine equity while leaving all parties content.

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