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BioNTech Opens Africa’s First mRNA Vaccine Manufacturing Unit In Rwanda

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The first BioNTech site in Rwanda was inaugurated on Monday, and was attended by African leaders such as Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Nana Akuffo Adod of Ghana, and Moussa Faki Mahamat, the Chiarperson of the African Union.

In an effort to increase access to mRNA vaccines in Africa, the German biotechnology company plans to establish its first vaccine production hub on the continent.

The drug manufacturer announced that it had established a manufacturing facility in Africa to produce vaccines that would protect against a range of illnesses.

The CEO and co-Founder of BioNTech outlined the objectives of his company in Africa: “We want to contribute to build a sustainable, resilient vaccine ecosystem. The essence of our contribution here in Africa is clear. Potential future vaccines need to be produced in Africa, for Africa, addressing regional needs and global standards.”

The $150 million project is an attempt by multiple agencies to prevent a recurrence of the vaccine distribution problems during the Covid-19 pandemic, wherein countries in the global south were not given the same priority as regions like Europe.

President Kagame celebrated a turning point in the game.

“mRNA vaccines could not even be administered in Africa. It was said to be too complicated for our health systems. Then, when we embarked on this journey to manufacture these vaccines on our continent, we were told that it would take a minimum of 30 years […] That was all wrong. It is possible. And because it is possible, it is also necessary.”

Among the dignitaries in attendance were Ursula von der Leyen, the head of the European Commission, and Barbados’ prime minister.

BioNtech plans to start operations in 2024 after completing the factory’s construction. The company announced that it will train approximately 100 local employees to make a variety of new vaccines using cutting-edge mRNA technology.

The vaccines will subsequently be distributed by Rwanda to the 55 members of the African Union. In April, the South African city of Cape Town hosted the launch of Africa’s first mRNA vaccine hub.

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