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A Potential Blow for Africa’s Hopes of Greater Vaccine Self-reliance

BioNTech SE is revising plans to build a manufacturing network of vaccine plants in three countries in Africa, just over a year after breaking ground on the first facility in Rwanda. The German biotech company is currently not moving forward with a plan for a manufacturing facility in South Africa. In Senegal, BioNTech is now holding discussions about developing a smaller-scale manufacturing site or possibly an R&D center. The moves come after BioNTech shipped six containers to Kigali, Rwanda, in March. The company designed its ‘BioNTainer’ facilities as part of an ambitious program to help ensure people on the continent have equitable access to the mRNA technology that soared to prominence during the race to develop a vaccine against Covid-19. BioNTech said as recently as December that in addition to Rwanda, where construction is continuing, it expected to ship BioNTainers to Senegal and potentially South Africa as part of a push toward a “decentralized and robust end-to-end manufacturing network in Africa.”