RWANDA – Rwanda has announced plans to begin the construction of an mRNA vaccine manufacturing facility in Kigali in partnership with German pharmaceutical firm BioNTech in an effort to meet vaccine demands of African countries towards self-reliance and health security.

The vaccine factory construction in Rwanda is set to kick off on June 23rd 2022 to enable African nations to jump-start their own manufacturing network particularly vaccines manufactured for domestic use and export to other member states of the African Union at a not-for-profit price.

The manufacturing capacity for vaccines will be expanded sequentially by adding further manufacturing lines and sites to the manufacturing network on the African continent to support the production of several hundreds of millions of mRNA vaccine doses.

The local production capabilities will further address vaccine uptake in Africa which has fallen short of expectations due to misinformation, logistical problems, a lacking sense of urgency in the population to name a few factors.

The groundbreaking event for construction of the mRNA vaccine factory in the Special Economic Zone in Gasabo District is scheduled to be attended by President Paul Kagame and other heads of state, World Health Organization officials, representatives from the European Union among other delegates.

Initial estimates show that two modules will sit on about 800 square metres of space and offer an estimated initial capacity of up to 50 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine annually,” according to a statement from the vaccine maker BioNTech.

BioNTech revealed that the manufacturer will initially staff and operate the facilities to support the safe and rapid initiation of the production of mRNA-based vaccine doses under stringent good manufacturing processes to prepare for the transfer of know-how to local partners to enable independent operation.

The German company’s modular factory elements to be assembled in Africa to so-called BioNTainers will be delivered to the Kigali construction site by the end of 2022,” the COVID-19 vaccine manufacturer further disclosed.

BioNTech added that the BioNTainers could make other mRNA vaccines against malaria or tuberculosis depending on product development progress and future public-health priorities as it consists of one drug substance and one drug product module each built of six international standard-sized containers.

The company confirmed that the initial vaccine factory, made from an assembly kit and housed in shipping containers, would over the next few years become part of a wider supply network spanning several African nations including Senegal, Ghana and South Africa.

Earlier, Ghana, Rwanda and Senegal partnered with BioNTech to fill, finish and package BioNTech mRNA vaccines to improve vaccine supply in Africa where BioNTech will establish scalable vaccine production by delivering end-to-end mRNA manufacturing facilities based on a container solution.

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