The containers of the first BioNTainer- facilities equipped to manufacture a range of mRNA-based vaccines – are expected to arrive in Rwanda on Monday, March 13, The New Times has learnt.
The development, which among others aims to scale up vaccine production on the continent, was confirmed by a highly placed source at the Ministry of Health.
According to BionTech, this is the next milestone reached by the firm in the establishment of scalable mRNA vaccine production in Africa.
Biopharmaceutical New Technologies (BioNTech) is a next-generation immunotherapy company pioneering novel therapies for cancer and other serious diseases.
The company exploits a wide array of computational discovery and therapeutic drug platforms for the rapid development of novel biopharmaceuticals
In December 2022, the firm announced on its official website that the six ISO-sized shipping containers for the first BioNTainer constructed in Europe, underwent quality checks by BioNTech experts, and are being prepared for shipment to Kigali.
In parallel, BioNTech said it continued to develop and build its state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Kigali following its groundbreaking in June 2022.
The facility will be housing the first BioNTainers and is expected to become a node in a decentralized and robust end-to-end manufacturing network in Africa.
A look at the modular factory
BioNTech’s first modular factory is made out of shipping containers. Dubbed a BioNTainer, the factory was built in Europe and inspected by the company’s manufacturing experts.
Roughly, each BioNTainer consists of one drug substance and one formulation module for a total footprint of about 800 square meters.
The units will be able to crank out about 50 million doses a year of BioNTech’s Pfizer-partnered COVID-19 vaccine, according to company’s executives.
This isn’t BioNTech’s only move to bolster production in Africa.
The German-based company is still working to build its own manufacturing base in Kigali, where the first BioNTainers will be stationed.
Aside from Kigali, BioNTech says it plans to ship BioNTainers to Senegal and “potentially” South Africa.
Aside from COVID vaccines, BioNTech is also using its mRNA platform to advance malaria and tuberculosis vaccine candidates.
Eventually, BioNTech says it hopes to produce those vaccines with its BioNTainers.
The Kigali site is expected to hire a staff of 100 by 2024. BioNTech has said vaccine production should begin within a year of delivery of the BioNTainers