GHANA – Ghana, Rwanda and Senegal have partnered with BioNTech SE, German biotechnology company, to fill, finish and package BioNTech mRNA vaccines to improve vaccine supply in Africa.

BioNTech SE plans to establish scalable vaccine production by delivering end-to-end mRNA manufacturing facilities based on a container solution.

The modular production facility known as BioNTainer consists of one drug substance and one drug product module each built of six international standard-sized containers.

Each module requires 800m2 of space and offers a million doses of mRNA-based vaccines depending on the specific vaccine.

The BioNTainer is equipped to manufacture a range of mRNA-based approved vaccines specifically to the needs of African member states.

Ghanaian President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Senegal’s President Macky Sall and President Paul Kagame of Rwanda witnessed the official presentation of a BioNTech modular production facility for the production of mRNA vaccines in Africa at Marburg, Germany.

President Ursula von der Leyen of the European Commission and Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), were also in attendance at the presentation ceremony.

The first BioNTainer is expected to be shipped to African Union in mid-2022 then other BioNTainers will be shipped to Rwanda and Senegal in close alignment with the respective countries and the African Union,” reported GhanaToday.

BioNTech will be responsible for the delivery and set-up of the modules while local authorities and governments will provide the needed infrastructure.

The company will initially staff, own and operate the facilities to support the safe and rapid initiation of the production of mRNA-based vaccine doses.

However, in the longer term, the company plans to transfer manufacturing capacities and the know-how to local partners to enable sustainable production of mRNA vaccines in Africa.

Speaking at the event, President Akufo-Addo said the pan-African project fitted into Ghana’s roadmap for vaccine development and manufacturing.

Ghana will work together with Rwanda and Senegal to fill, finish, and package BioNTech mRNA vaccines as a first step in the chain of domestic vaccine production,” further said President Akufo-Addo.

He assured that Ghana’s Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) would work closely with regulatory bodies from the two partner countries to enhance the regulatory capacities for domestic vaccine development and manufacturing in Africa.

In recent progress, WHO announced six African countries namely Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia that would be the first in Africa to receive the technology needed to produce mRNA vaccines.

mRNA is the advanced technology used by companies such as Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna for their COVID-19 shots.

The technology transfer project that was launched last year in Cape Town aims to help low- and middle-income countries to manufacture mRNA vaccines at scale and according to international standards.

The best way to address health emergencies and reach universal health coverage is to significantly increase the capacity of all regions to manufacture the health products they need.

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