BioNTech’s first African messenger RNA vaccine production center inaugurated in Rwanda

Exterior view of the headquarters of the German biotechnology company "BioNTech" pictured in Mainz, Germany, Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. (Arne Dedert/dpa via AP)

BioNTech’s first messenger RNA vaccine production center in Africa, the “BioNtainer” – so named because it is made from recycled containers – has been inaugurated in Kigali. A breakthrough in vaccine research and production on the continent. Eventually, 50 million doses of messenger RNA vaccines against Covid could be produced here every year.
The event was attended by a host of VIPs including Macky Sall, Nana Akufo-Addo, Moussa Faki, Adesina and Ursula Von der Leyen.
Producing vaccines for Africa at an affordable price in Africa is one of the main objectives of this project. “The quality is exactly the same as what you would find elsewhere. Inequalities in access to vaccines hit Africa hard during the pandemic. We found ourselves knocking on every door looking for doses. The situation was intolerable. And the African Union came together to make a firm commitment that we would never find ourselves in that position again,” declared Rwandan President Paul Kagame.
And to achieve this, an entire ecosystem needs to be built up, explains Ugur Sahin, Managing Director of German biotech company BioNTech: “Our aim is to ensure that these facilities operate in line with global standards. The other objective is to develop new drugs specifically adapted to regional needs. BioNTech is actively engaged in the research and development of new vaccines and treatments against complex pathogens such as malaria, tuberculosis, HIV and monkeypox.”
But there’s still a long way to go, warns the BioNTech director. He hopes to launch the validation process for the first test vaccines in 2025. BioNTech is also developing this kind of infrastructure in Senegal, Ghana and South Africa.