The question was: can we make the manufacturing process compact enough to fit into a container? explains to AFP Ugur Sahin, CEO and co-founder of BioNTech.
The laboratory, a pioneer in messenger RNA technology, has designed two modules of 12 containers in total, one for the manufacture of mRNA and the other to finalize the vaccine serum, which must then be put into vials elsewhere.
This mobile plant called “BioNTainer” will be sent to Rwanda or Senegal, possibly in both countries,
in the second trimester 2022 and the first doses should be available 12 months later.
The opening of a conventional factory of this type currently takes three years.
South Africa will join
eventually the production network, according to BioNTech.
The modules were demonstrated at BioNTech’s main mRNA production center in Marburg, central Germany, on Wednesday.
The modular system opens up a new perspective for global immunization equitygreeted Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, during the presentation.
Africa is the least vaccinated continent. More than a year after the first COVID-19 vaccines were administered and two years after the start of the pandemic, only some 12% of Africans have been fully vaccinated, according to the Africa Center for Disease Prevention and Control ( Africa CDC).
The project is part of an effort by BioNTech to
set up mRNA technology production units on all continentsexplains Mr. Sahin, whose company says it has produced more than three billion doses of its vaccine developed with the American Pfizer.
Increasing local production is keywhile more than a hundred countries% we have set for the middle of this year”,”text”:”may not reach the 70% target we have set for the middle of this year”}}”>may not reach the 70% target we have set for the middle of this yearwarned in Marburg the director general of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
You teach us to fish and you don’t give us fishadded John Nkengasong, director of Africa CDC, in an apparent criticism of the unequal distribution of vaccines between rich and developing countries.
A way to fight malaria
While the manufacture of the vaccine requires some 50,000 steps to be carefully observed,
the idea is to standardize the container, to validate the process in advance before installing it, detailed Mr. Sahin.
BioNTech employees will work there initially, but must train local specialists in order to
pass on the plant in the medium or long termaccording to a press release from the German company, which has become a major player in the pharmaceutical industry in less than two years.
The containers could also be used to produce BioNTech’s vaccines against malaria, also based on mRNA, if clinical trials due to begin this year lead to its authorization.
This is a transfer of certain technologies, but without the lifting of patents demanded in particular by many developing countries and NGOs.
Patents are not the key, because if we install the technology and give it to a partner, they will also have a license to operate it while ensuring a
responsible usenoted Mr. Sahin in an interview with AFP.
Meanwhile, South African biotech company Biologics recently announced that it has made the continent’s first messenger RNA vaccine against COVID-19, using the publicly available genetic code that US company Moderna used to design its vaccine.