BioNTech SE has begun construction for the initial African mRNA manufacturing facility in Kigali, Rwanda, with a target for the first set of manufacturing BioNTainers to be delivered to the site by the end of this year, with the actual vaccine manufacturing to begin approximately 12 to 18 months after their installation. The plan was originally revealed this past February.
The biopharma company is looking to set up more factories in Senegal and South Africa in close coordination with its partners in the respective countries. The initial site will serve as a decentralized African end-to-end manufacturing network, as all vaccines to be produced in the network will be dedicated to people residing in member states of the African Union.
BioNTech will be working in close coordination with teams from its sites in Germany to accelerate the training of about 100 colleagues who will be running the production, in addition to all associated laboratory and quality assurance tasks on site. Local personnel will also be hired.
The Rwandan facility, with a size of nearly 323,000 square feet, will initially have two BioNTainers (one for the production of mRNA, and one for the production of the formulated bulk drug product). The BioNTainers will be equipped to manufacture a range of mRNA-based vaccines targeted to the needs of the African Union member states, which could possibly 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 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,” comments H.E. Paul Kagame, president of the Republic of Rwanda. “Working with our partners, Rwanda intends to build on this investment to attract a vibrant biopharmaceutical research and manufacturing sector.”