President Paul Kagame has hailed the arrival vaccine manufacturing BioNTainers shipped to Rwanda by Germany-based pharmaceutical firm BioNTech, describing it as a major milestone towards mRNA vaccine production on the African continent.
The six ISO-sized shipping containers for the first BioNTainer have been arrived in the country on Monday, where they were received at Kigali International Airport by the Minister of Health, Dr. Sabin Nsanzimana and Dr. Sierk Poetting, Chief Operating Officer at BioNTech, representatives of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UN Agencies, among other officials.
“Historic milestone today as the first @BioNTech_Group BioNTainers arrived in Rwanda, exactly 3 years since the first case of Covid-19 was detected in our country. This system will allow end-to-end mRNA vaccine production in Africa for the first time.
“Our thanks and appreciation to Uğur Şahin, Özlem Türeci, Sierk Pötting & the whole BNT team for the outstanding partnership, as well as to @KenupFoundation, #TeamEurope, @IFC_org, @WHO & @AfricaCDC for key support.” President Kagame said via Twitter.
Following the arrival of the equipment, BioNTech said it will continue to build and develop its state-of-the-art manufacturing facility for the production of mRNA-based drugs and product candidates in Rwanda, following the groundbreaking in June 2022.
WHO Director General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus joined in congratulating President Kagame on the milestone, pointing out that it will ensure vaccine equity on the African continent.
“Indeed, this is history in making, my brother President @PaulKagame. Thank you for your leadership and commitment to make #VaccinEquity in Africa a reality!” Dr. Tedros tweeted.
— Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (@DrTedros) March 13, 2023
The facility will initially house two sets of BioNTainers for mRNA vaccine production in bulk and is expected to become the first node in a decentralized and robust end-to-end manufacturing network in Africa.
BioNTech is also pursuing facility developments in Senegal and South Africa, in close coordination with each country. Vaccines deriving from this envisioned pan-African infrastructure will be intended for people residing in member states of the African Union, with the aim to support access to novel medicines.
BioNTech is advancing mRNA-based vaccine candidates to address malaria and tuberculosis based on the Company’s mRNA platform. The malaria vaccine candidate BNT165 entered clinical trials in December 2022. The clinical trials for the tuberculosis vaccine candidate BNT164 are expected to enter first-in-human trials shortly.
The former Director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. John N. Nkengasong, who was among the drivers of the project, congratulated President Kagame upon the milestone.
Congratulation @PaulKagame on your leadership in global health security and pandemic preparedness! Truly an inspiring moment for global health security. #Covid-19 taught us that a threat anywhere is a threat everywhere. Leadership such as this guarantees collective security! https://t.co/VU4axdgAsw
— John Nkengasong (@JNkengasong) March 13, 2023