(Ecofin Agency) - In plans to quickly move out of the Covid-19 pandemic, countries in Africa are stepping up initiatives to increase their vaccine production capacities. To support this ambition, pharmaceutical firm BioNTech has reached an agreement with Rwanda and Senegal to build its first vaccine production factories on the continent.
The firm announced in an October 26 statement that the construction of the first mRNA vaccine plant will start by the end of Q1 2022. The facility will produce 50 million doses of vaccine annually. “Our goal is to develop vaccines in the African Union and to establish sustainable vaccine production capabilities to jointly improve medical care in Africa. We have made great progress in the past few weeks, which will help us on our way to turning these plans into reality,” said Ugur Sahin, BioNTech CEO and co-founder.
For this first stage, the lab will staff, own and operate the plant to allow the safe and rapid rollout of the vaccine. Local scientists will, later on, take over the activities.
As a reminder, African countries have been seeking to increase their vaccine production capacity for several months, since the covid-19 pandemic highlighted the weaknesses of the current system. According to Africa CDC, just over 5% of the African population has been fully vaccinated so far due to the difficulty states have in obtaining the vaccine.
Africa plans to increase the rate of locally produced vaccines from 1% in 2021 to 60% by 2040.