German vaccine manufacturer BioNTech and the Rwandan government have offically begun construction on Africa’s first mRNA vaccine factory in Kigali, the country’s capital. The announcement came on Thursday.
The African continent is the world’s least vaccinated region against COVID-19, with less than 20% of its 1.2-billion population having received two doses of a COVID vaccine.
According to AfricaNews, this facility will be Africa’s first of three planned projects to produce treatments against COVID-19 and other diseases by early 2024. The ground-breaking ceremony was attending by BioNTech officials and Rwandan President Paul Kagame.
President Kagame: This groundbreaking is really a historic milestone towards vaccine equity. Rwanda intends to build on this investment by putting in place the conditions to attract other manufacturers and innovators. pic.twitter.com/tNSbzSRzds
— Presidency | Rwanda (@UrugwiroVillage) June 23, 2022
“BioNTech is researching and developing vaccines and medicines to prevent malaria, tuberculosis and HIV. These deseases are major causes of mortality on the African continent. We’ve partnered with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to develop the tuberculosis and HIV vaccines and we are developing malaria vaccines,” said Ugur Sahin, BioNTech’s CEO, at the event.
President Kagame called the vaccine factory project “groundbreaking” and said that Rwanda has continued to work on attracting biopharmaceutical researchers to its manufacturing sector.
The Rwandan mRNA vaccine factory will produce inoculations against COVID-19, but will also be focusing on pioneering research into vaccines against malaria, tuberculosis and HIV – three other diseases that kill millions of African every year.
Human trails of a BioNTech malaria vaccine using mRNA technology is expected to begin late this year.
By Luis Monzon
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