(Ecofin Agency) - Initially announced for 2022, the first mobile vaccine production units of the German pharmaceutical company BioNTech arrived in Africa on Monday 13 March. They will eventually form a major production facility able to produce 50 to 100 million doses of vaccine yearly.
The first mobile vaccine production units delivered by the pharmaceutical company BioNTech arrived in Rwanda on Monday 13 March.
Named BioNTainer, these mobile laboratories, made from recycled containers, will be assembled in Kigali where they will become the essential elements of a major vaccine production center. Eventually, this production center will specialize in the production of messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines in the likes of Covid-19 vaccines.
In 2021, Rwanda was chosen along with Senegal and South Africa to host BioNTech's first vaccine production facilities in Africa. Born of the need for the continent to reduce its dependence on foreign vaccines by equipping itself with real infrastructure in this area, this project appeared at a time when African countries’ Covid-19 vaccination rate is lagging far behind. Despite significant progress in the past two years, the rate is still below 50%, according to figures from Africa CDC.
In 2021, the African Union announced plans to boost the percentage of vaccines produced in Africa from 1% to 60% by 2040. It hopes to achieve this goal with public but also private support from the likes of BioNTech, which should also take advantage of this opportunity to position itself in a still unexplored market.
“Vaccine consumption in Africa is 99% made up of vaccines produced elsewhere. The African Union is pushing to reduce this percentage, at least by half, in the next twenty years, but this project is a step forward which shows that we can move forward more quickly. We are already imagining new partnerships like this, with a view to reducing the distance between disinfection places and where the solutions are,” said Dr. Sabin Nsanzimana, Rwanda’s Health Minister.
Meanwhile, for BioNtech chief operations officer Dr. Sierk Poetting, the arrival of the mobile units is a historic moment.
Moutiou Adjibi Nourou