BioNTech planning vaccine factory in Rwanda

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BioNTech, the co-creator of the Comirnaty COVID-19 vaccine alongside Pfizer, announced Tuesday it plans to begin construction of an mRNA vaccine manufacturing facility in Africa in the middle of next year, according to the company’s news release

The vaccinemaker has announced that it signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the government of Rwanda and the Institut Pasteur de Dakar to create the capacity to produce hundreds of millions of mRNA vaccine doses in Rwanda, according to its press release. 

“Our goal is to develop vaccines in the African Union and to establish sustainable vaccine production capabilities to jointly improve medical care in Africa. We have made great progress in the past few weeks, which will help us on our way to turn these plans into reality,” said Ugur Sahin, CEO and co-founder of BioNTech, in the news release. 

BioNTech says it has finalized construction plans and ordered the needed assets for vaccine production in Rwanda, to be delivered by mid-2022. Once the manufacturing plant is fully operational, BioNTech said 50 million COVID-19 vaccine doses will be produced per year — and further development of the plant up could see output rise to hundreds of millions of doses. 

As the project gets underway, BioNTech has said it will staff the facility with current employees in order to ensure that the manufacturing plant is safe and efficient, but it plans to eventually hire local staff. 

BioNTech and Pfizer are also cooperating with a South African vaccine manufacturer based in Cape Town called Biovac as part of its global network for COVID-19 vaccine production. 

Mastshidiso Moeti, the regional director for Africa in the World Health Organization, said the new BioNTech facility would be crucial to transferring medical know-how to the region. 

“State-of-the-art facilities like this will be life-savers and game-changers for Africa and could lead to millions of cutting edge vaccines being made for Africans, by Africans in Africa,” she said. 

Tags African Union BioNTech BioNTech Kigali Pfizer–BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine Rwanda vaccine production World Health Organization

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