BioNTech starts construction of first mRNA vaccine manufacturing facility in Africa
BioNTech SE has reached the next milestone in the establishment of scalable mRNA vaccine production in Africa on its planned schedule. BioNTech welcomed its African partners for the first time on the African continent as construction works for the initial African mRNA manufacturing facility began in Kigali, Rwanda, with a target for the first set of manufacturing BioNTainers to be delivered to the site by the end of 2022. The company expects to set up additional factories in Senegal and South Africa in close coordination with its partners in the respective countries. The initial site will become a node in a decentralized and robust African end-to-end manufacturing network. All vaccines to be manufactured in the network will be dedicated to people residing in member states of the African Union.
During the event in Kigali, BioNTech provided an update on the joint establishment of mRNA manufacturing facilities and the development plans for BioNTech’s malaria vaccine candidates. Attendees included President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana, Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat of the African Union Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission (by video), Olaf Scholz, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany (by video), Minister of Foreign Affairs Aïssata Tall Sall of Senegal, WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WTO Director General Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, CEO Nardos Bekele-Thomas of the African Union Development Agency-NEPAD, Secretary General Wamkele Mene of the African Continental Free Trade Area, and Prof. Ugur Sahin, M.D., Co-Founder and CEO of BioNTech. In attendance from development finance institutions were Managing Director Makhtar Diop of the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation and European Investment Bank Vice President Thomas Östros.
BioNTech, the biopharmaceutical company which co-developed the first approved mRNA-based vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine), will work with staff from its sites in Germany to accelerate the training of about 100 colleagues who will be running the production and all associated laboratory and quality assurance tasks on site.
At the Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases Summit, held in Kigali occurring in parallel to Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), Ugur Sahin introduced the Company’s program aiming at the development of a highly effective malaria vaccine based on BioNTech’s mRNA platform. The vaccine candidates are expected to enter first-in-human trials later in 2022.
The Rwandan facility, with a size of about 30,000 square meters, will be initially equipped with 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 conceivably 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 estimated initial annual capacity of e. g. the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine will be about 50 million doses. Manufacturing in the BioNTainers in Rwanda is expected to commence approximately 12 to 18 months after their installation.
BioNTech supports the international treaty on climate change (“Paris Agreement”). To this end, the Company is committed to operate its African manufacturing sites, including the initial plant in Rwanda, on a climate-neutral basis using renewable energy. Izuba energy will work to facilitate supply of the site with renewable energy.
In February 2022, the Company introduced its approach to scalable vaccine production by developing and delivering turnkey mRNA manufacturing facilities based on a container solution.