BioNTech will soon start construction of an mRNA vaccine factory in Rwanda

FRANKFURT, June 9 (Reuters) – COVID-19 vaccine maker BioNTech (22UAy.DE) said construction of an mRNA vaccine factory to enable African countries to start their own manufacturing network would begin on June 23 in Rwanda.

The groundbreaking ceremony in the capital Kigali is to be attended by Rwandan President Paul Kagame, other African heads of state, as well as representatives of the European Union and the World Health Organization, said the biotech company said in a statement Thursday.

Elements of the German firm’s modular plant, which will be assembled in Africa as so-called BioNTainers, will be delivered to the Kigali yard by the end of 2022, he added.

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The company, which has developed the most widely used COVID-19 vaccine in the Western world with its US partner Pfizer (PFE.N), drew up a plan earlier this year to enable African countries to produce its Comirnaty-branded vaccine under supervision of BioNTech. Read more

The company said the initial vaccine factory, made from an assembly kit and housed in shipping containers, will over the next few years become part of a wider supply network spanning multiple countries. African countries, including Senegal and South Africa.

The push for the project comes as Western-made coronavirus vaccine doses finally arrive in force on the continent, after a much-criticized delay.

But adoption in Africa has fallen short of expectations, due to misinformation, logistical issues and a lack of sense of urgency among the population, among other factors. Read more

BioNTech said BioNTainers may manufacture additional mRNA vaccines for malaria or tuberculosis, depending on product development progress and future public health priorities.

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Reporting by Ludwig Burger Editing by Madeline Chambers, Elaine Hardcastle

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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