August 10, 2022

Covid and malaria vaccines on track for mass production in Rwanda

Construction of Africa’s first messenger RNA (mRNA) factory has begun in Africa.

This means that Biopharmaceutical New Technologies (BioNTech) SE is one step closer to producing mRNA vaccines that teach human cells how to make a protein that will trigger an immune response inside the body.

The company is a next-generation immunotherapy company, pioneering new therapies for cancer and other serious diseases.

It has just reached the next milestone to establish scalable production of mRNA vaccines in Africa on schedule.

Modular factories

BioNTech also welcomed its African partners for the first time to witness the construction of Africa’s first mRNA manufacturing facility in Kigali, Rwanda. A target for the first set of modular manufacturing plants, dubbed BioNTainers, is to be delivered to the site by the end of 2022.

Ugur Sahin, Managing Director and Co-Founder of BioNTech, said, “This plant will be the first in an African network to provide sustainable production capacity for mRNA-based pharmaceuticals. Other manufacturing facilities in Africa and other continents are expected to follow. Our goal with governments and regulatory authorities is to produce vaccines for Africa here with highly qualified African professionals.

The company plans to set up additional factories in Senegal and South Africa with its partners in the respective countries. All vaccines that will be manufactured in the network will be dedicated to people residing in African Union member states.

BioNTech took the opportunity to provide an update on the joint establishment of mRNA manufacturing facilities and development plans for BioNTech’s malaria vaccine candidates.

Quality assurance

The company, which co-developed the first approved mRNA-based vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine), will work with staff at its sites in Germany to accelerate the training of approximately 100 colleagues who will lead production and all associated laboratories. and on-site quality assurance tasks.

The Rwandan facility, which is approximately 30,000 square meters, will initially be equipped with two BioNTainers – one for mRNA production and one for the production of formulated bulk pharmaceutical product.

The BioNTainers will be equipped to manufacture a range of mRNA-based vaccines targeted to the needs of African Union Member States, which could eventually include the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and investigational malaria and tuberculosis vaccines of BioNTech, if successfully developed. , approved or authorized by regulatory authorities.

The estimated initial annual capacity of, for example, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine will be around 50 million doses. Manufacturing of the BioNtainers in Rwanda is expected to begin approximately 12 to 18 months after installation.

Vaccine resilience

Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda, said, “The groundbreaking work for BioNTech’s state-of-the-art mRNA production facility is a critical milestone. We are pleased to have BioNTech as a partner, and I applaud the company’s commitment to working with Africa on a continental basis to help ensure the resilience of our vaccines for the future and to invest in new research to combat endemic diseases that disproportionately affect our population. Together with our partners, Rwanda intends to leverage this investment to attract a vibrant biopharmaceutical research and manufacturing sector.

The company has a broad portfolio of oncology product candidates, including individualized, ready-to-use mRNA therapies, innovative chimeric antigen receptor T cells, bispecific checkpoint immunomodulators, antibodies targeted cancer drugs and small molecules.

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