German’s BioNTech has started Construction of First mRNA Vaccine manufacturing facility in Kigali, Rwanda. The facility is expected to produce millions of vaccine doses to help Africa achieve vaccine equity.

This biopharmaceutical company co-developed the first approved mRNA-based vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine), will work with staff from its sites in Germany to accelerate the training of about 100 colleagues who will be running the production and all associated laboratory and quality assurance tasks on site.

The Kigali based facility, which is a size of about 30,000 square meters, will be initially equipped with  BioNTainers  which will manufacture a range of mRNA-based vaccines . These vaccines are targeted to the needs of the African Union member states, which could conceivably include the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and BioNTech’s investigational malaria and tuberculosis vaccines, if they are successfully developed, approved or authorized by regulatory authorities.

The company estimates that it will produce up to 50 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine with the manufacturing in the BioNTainers in the Rwandan facility expected to commence approximately 12 to 18 months after their installation.

 “The groundbreaking for BioNTech’s state-of-the-art mRNA production facility is a pivotal milestone. We are happy to have BioNTech as a partner, and I applaud the company’s commitment to working with Africa on a continental basis to help secure our vaccine resilience for the future, and invest in new research to address the endemic diseases that disproportionately affect our people. Working with our partners, Rwanda intends to build on this investment to attract a vibrant biopharmaceutical research and manufacturing sector,” said Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda during the ground breaking ceremony.

 The company expects to put up additional factories in Senegal and South Africa in close coordination with its partners in the respective countries. This idea was welcomed by Senegal’s President and African Union Chair Macky Sall

 “I welcome and support the investment that BioNTech plans to make in Senegal for the production of vaccines, to be followed by the operationalization of its partnership with Institut Pasteur in Dakar. We look forward to welcoming you to the new city of Diamniadio,” Sall said

International Finance Cooperation Managing Director Makhtar Diop who was also in attendance lauded the works of the public and private sector partners in developing Africa’s multi-vaccine manufacturing capabilities.

 “IFC is committed to working with our public and private sector partners to develop Africa’s multi-vaccine manufacturing capabilities across the value chain to create vaccine equality and bolster the continent’s health resilience. This goes beyond COVID-19 and the demands of the pandemic. It is a long-term imperative to create a sustainable and commercially viable vaccine manufacturing ecosystem in Africa. The project in Rwanda is a vital part of this,” said Diop.

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