Rwanda Welcomes Africa’s First Mobile Vaccine-Production Units

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The German pharmaceutical company BioNTech has sent six mobile vaccine manufacturing units to Rwanda. In an effort to increase domestic manufacturing of mRNA vaccines, this is the first shipment of its kind to Africa.

The repurposed shipping container-made apartments reached Kigali, the country’s capital, on Monday. If constructed, they will serve as a centre for producing vaccines against a range of diseases.

“This is a historic moment,” said BioNTech’s chief operating officer Sierk Poetting. “The technology is scalable. It is also flexible so you can move it anywhere,” added Poetting.

The Covid-19 outbreak made clear how much Africa depends on foreign immunizations. According to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, less than half of the 1.2 billion individuals on the continent have received their full dose of Covid-19 vaccination (CDC).

It will take at least a year before the Kigali factory, which has the capacity to produce up to 100 million mRNA vaccines annually, begins to produce doses.

The BioNTainers containers will also lead the way in developing medicines for illnesses like HIV, TB, and malaria, which are among the most lethal in Africa.

“We are also thinking of cancer therapies that we are developing that could be produced in these BioNTainers,” said Poetting.

“This shows the power of science, partnerships and humanity, what people can do to fight a terrifying pandemic,” Health Minister Sabin Nsanzimana said.

BioNTech is said to have hired nine local scientists, with plans to hire at least 100 people by the following year and eventually have locals manage the plant. The immunizations will be distributed by Rwanda to the African Union’s 55 nations.