Vaccine manufacturing capabilities of Africa on Thursday received a boost following a ground-breaking ceremony for the establishment of an mRNA BioNTech SE vaccine production facility in Kigali, Rwanda.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, who joined the host country’s President, Paul Kagame, at the ceremony, said the project signalled the commencement of the end-to-end vaccine manufacturing facility involving Ghana, Rwanda and Senegal.
The establishment of the mRNA BioNTech SE vaccine production facility in Rwanda is the first step in the chain of domestic vaccine production in Africa.
BioNTech SE, a German biotechnology company based in Mainz, is to establish scalable vaccine production by delivering turnkey mRNA manufacturing facilities based on a container solution.
It is expected that three years from now, the manufacturing of COVID-19 vaccines will have been completed as the construction of the facility and full clinical trials will take 18 months.
Speaking at the event, President Akufo-Addo said this first BioNTech SE vaccine manufacturing facility heralded an important step in end-to-end vaccine manufacturing geared toward Vaccine Equity for Africa.
Therefore, the President said Rwanda, Ghana and Senegal would have to work together to realise the vision of vaccine equity for Africa.
He said the corporation between the Foods and Drugs Boards of Ghana and Rwanda would be deepened further with the signing of a memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
Through that, President Alufo-Addo said Ghana’s FDA, which has WHO Global maturity level 3 (ML3) status and working seriously to attain WHO Global ML4 by the end of 2022, would assist Rwanda FDA to achieve WHO Global ML3 status as soon as possible.
As a result of the collaboration, a team from Rwanda recently visited Research institutions in Ghana to strengthen its institutional development.
President Akufo-Addo assured that Ghana’s FDA would work closely with regulatory bodies from the two partner countries to enhance the regulatory capacities for domestic vaccine development and manufacturing in Africa.
The President assured of Ghana’s determination for the project to succeed, stating that there was the political will and strong backing from the country’s pharmaceutical industry and scientific research institutions, who have learnt lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Africa’s shortage of manufacturing capability contrasts strongly with developing countries such as India, which has extensive pharmaceutical production capability.
That is why the recent announcement by BioNTech that it will build a vaccine manufacturing facility in Rwanda, to be followed by a second in Senegal, is seen as a game-changer.
BioNTech will be responsible for the delivery and set-up of the modules, while local authorities and governments will provide the needed infrastructure.
Rex Mainoo Yeboah, ISD