Rwandan president Paul Kagame and BioNtech's CEO Ugur Sahin launched on Thursday, the construction of a messenger RNA vaccine factory in Kigali. It is Africa's first of three planned projects on the continent and aims to produce treatments against Covid-19 and other diseases by early 2024.
"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 partnerd 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.
Paul Kagama called the project "grounbreaking" and said his country worked to attract biopharmaceutical researchers in the manufacturing sector.
Production will include vaccines against Covid, but also pioneering treatments currently in development against malaria, tuberculosis and HIV, diseases that are ravaging Africa. Human trials of a BioNTech malaria vaccine using mRNA technology are expected to begin in late 2022.
Africa is the world's least vaccinated continent against Covid-19. Less than 20% of its 1.2 billion population have received two doses of vaccine.