Rwanda has received the first batch of BioNTainers to begin an end-to-end mRNA vaccine production in Africa for the first time.
The containers arrived exactly 3 years since the first Covid-19 case was detected in Rwanda on 14 March 2020.
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 the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine notably will be about 50 million doses.
Commenting on the arrival of the BionTainers, Rwandan Minister of Health, Dr. Sabin Nsanzimana described it as a key milestone in the journey.
“The BioNTainers which arrived today are a key component of what is expected from BioNTech in this journey to establish the vaccine manufacturing facility. There are other logistics still on the way but this is a major milestone in this process,” he said.
“The experts are already here and we expect the facility to be up and running soon,” added Minister Nsanzimana.
Manufacturing in the BioNTainers in Rwanda is expected to commence approximately 12 to 18 months after their installation.
Meanwhile, 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 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.