Jan 31, 2023

Mawazo Writing Africa

Writing about the main

Rwanda breaks ground on first mRNA vaccine plant in Africa

Rwanda plans to start manufacturing Covid-19 vaccines next year after Germany-based pharmaceutical company BioNTech started building the facility to house its two modular container prototypes in the country on Thursday.

The BioNTainers are expected to produce 50 million doses per year using the mRNA technology used for Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

The containers will be shipped to Rwanda by the end of the year, with manufacturing is expected to begin 12 to 18 months after installation.

During Thursday’s groundbreaking in the Kigali Special Economic Zone, Rwandan President Paul Kagame said the facility is a significant milestone in tackling vaccine inequality would be.

“Rwanda intends to build on this investment by creating conditions to attract other manufacturers and innovators. Rwanda fully supports BioNTech’s commitment to bring green energy to this factory and we will work together to make that happen,” said President Kagame.

Read: Big Pharma tried to crush Africa’s offer to manufacture Covid-19 vaccines locally

World Health Organization (WHO) figures released in June show that only two African countries (Mauritius and the Seychelles) produce 70 percent of their total population fully vaccinated. Rwanda expects to achieve that goal by the end of the month.

Shipping containers

BioNTech says one of the containers will produce the mRNA vaccines, while the other will manufacture bulk formulated drug products. It is planned to use the same facility to manufacture malaria and tuberculosis vaccines.

The modular systems consist of 12 shipping containers that house the same manufacturing process and equipment used at the factory.

The Kigali facility is the first mRNA technology manufacturing center with similar facilities being established in Senegal and South Africa.

Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria and Tunisia will be manufacturing technology of mRNA vaccines.

Read:mRNA Technology Transfer Brings Africa Closer to Vaccines – VIDEO

“We have started construction of the first African mRNA Production facility based on our BioNTainers reached the next milestone just four months after we launched the BioNTainer concept in February,” said Prof. Ugur Sahin, CEO and co-founder of BioNTech.

He added that the factory the first in an afrik European network providing such products would be sustainable production capacity for mRNA pharmaceuticals.

“The goal that we share with governments and regulators is to produce vaccines for Africa here with highly skilled professionals from Africa,” he said to accelerate the training of approximately 100 employees who will manage production and all related laboratory and quality assurance tasks on site. Around 20 local employees are also being trained.

According to the WHO, Africa imports around 99 percent of the vaccines administered. The development of the new vaccine manufacturing facilities will significantly reduce the continent’s import dependency.

Last year, the WHO established its global transfer center for mRNA technology to address supply shortages and boost immunization rates in developing countries.