BioNTech launches its $150M vaccine manufacturing facility in Rwanda

German biotech company, BioNTech has inaugurated its $150 million mRNA-based vaccine manufacturing facility in Kigali, Rwanda.

BioNTech launches its $150M vaccine manufacturing facility in Rwanda
BioNTech vaccine manufacturing facility

One year after laying its foundation, the German biotech company BioNTech has set up the first BioNTainer at its manufacturing facility in Kigali, Rwanda to facilitate the production of mRNA vaccines.

The project, fully financed by BioNTech, incurred a cost of around $150 million, per a statement seen by The total size of the facility spans approximately 35,000 square metres and is expected to employ at least 100 staff members upon reaching full operational capacity.

BioNTech plans to complete all buildings at the Kigali site and start local training of specialised personnel in the facility in 2024, with test mRNA production for process validation to be initiated in 2025.

According to Sierk Poetting, COO of BioNTech: "The facility based on BioNTainers goes beyond a mere physical structure. It represents the idea of revolutionising the manufacture of pharmaceuticals by combining digital technology with standardized mRNA production."

"The BioNTainers are designed to provide consistent manufacturing processes that could be applied globally and could be tailored to regional needs. We have set up the BioNTainers to be updated regularly to remain one of the most advanced mRNA manufacturing facilities globally," Poetting added.

BioNTainer is a sterile environment furnished by BioNTech with cutting-edge manufacturing solutions. This facility is designed to produce various mRNA-based vaccines tailored to meet the requirements of member states in the African Union. Examples include the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and BioNTech's prospective vaccines for malaria and tuberculosis.
A BioNTainer

How much BioNTech produce in their factory depends on the kind of mRNA product they are making and some things like how much is in each dose and how it is put together. For example, BioNTech could manufacture up to 50 million doses annually of a product that has an RNA process similar to that of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine.

Speaking during the inauguration, Paul Kagame, the President of Rwanda, "Vaccine inequity hit Africa hard during the pandemic. But BioNTech’s partnership with Africa demonstrates that vaccine technology can be democratised so that Africa is ready and resilient no matter what happens in the future."

BioNTech intends to carry out clinical trials in Africa for vaccine candidates targeting malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV in 2024. These diseases are widespread in Africa, leading to over two million deaths each year, with a significant impact on child mortality. If these vaccines are successfully developed and approved by regulatory authorities, BioNTech aims to make them available to lower-income countries at a not-for-profit price.

While in Kigali, Ugur Sahin, co-founder and CEO of BioNTech, met with Macky Sall, President of the Republic of Senegal, and discussed developing a potential research partnership between BioNTech and the Institut Pasteur de Dakar with a focus on infectious diseases relevant to the African continent.

Related Article: BioNTech’s InstaDeep picks Rwanda as AI research hub in Africa

The inauguration of site was attended by some African heads of state and government from Africa, the leadership of the African Union and European Union, as well as from WHO, Africa CDC and CEPI attended the official inauguration of the BioNTech site in Kigali.

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