BioNTech breaks ground on mRNA vaccine manufacturing facility in Africa

June 24, 2022

BioNTech’s plans to establish a scalable mRNA vaccine production in Africa are underway.

The latest update was given yesterday by Germany-based BioNTech, with the announcement that construction work for its first modular mRNA manufacturing facility on the African continent — located in Kigali, Rwanda— had started.

The modular facility will host two ‘BioNTainers’ — one of the BioNTainers will produce mRNA and the other will produce formulated bulk drug products. BioNTainers were first introduced back in February as the company’s turnkey solution to provide modular and scalable mRNA-based vaccine production.

The 30,000 square meter site will not only produce the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID jab but will look to use BioNTech’s mRNA platform to develop a malaria vaccine. The company also announced that malaria vaccine candidates are expected to enter human trials later this year.

BioNTech expects to set up additional factories in Senegal and South Africa in close coordination with its partners in the respective countries. The drugmaker had previously said that all vaccines manufactured in its new production network will be for residents of the African Union. Africa has received only 6% of the 9 billion COVID-19 vaccines produced, despite having over 17% of the world’s population. Less than 10% of Africans are fully vaccinated, compared to 54% of the world’s population.

Earlier this year, Moderna also inked a deal with the government of the Republic of Kenya to build a state-of-the-art $500 million facility that will focus on drug substance manufacturing in effort to mitigate the vaccination rate inequalities.