BioNTech and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) have announced an expansion of their strategic partnership, aiming to strengthen the mRNA vaccine ecosystem in Africa.

CEPI will offer $145m to support BioNTech’s efforts in developing research and development, clinical and commercial-scale manufacturing capabilities for mRNA vaccines at the company’s facility in Kigali, Rwanda.

This initiative bolsters Africa’s preparedness for future epidemic and pandemic threats.

BioNTech’s Kigali facility, inaugurated in December 2023, is based on the company’s BioNTainers – modular manufacturing units capable of producing various mRNA-based vaccines.

The Kigali manufacturing site is set to become the first commercial mRNA vaccine facility in Africa. It aligns with the African Union and Africa’s Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s ambitious goal to locally produce 60% of the vaccines required on the continent by 2040.

Under the expanded partnership, BioNTech will offer affordable access to its prophylactic vaccines produced in the Kigali unit, including potential vaccines against mpox, malaria and tuberculosis to low and middle-income countries.

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It will also prioritise vaccine supply to African nations upon successful development and authorisation.

The deal also includes a commitment to jointly respond to outbreaks in Africa caused by known viral threats or new pathogens with epidemic or pandemic potential.

The collaboration supports BioNTech’s ongoing initiatives in three critical areas: commercial-scale production, clinical-scale manufacturing of new vaccine candidates, and bolstering the research and development ecosystem for mRNA-based vaccines in Africa.

BioNTech and CEPI initially signed a strategic partnership in September 2023.

BioNTech CEO and co-founder Professor Ugur Sahin said: “Our partnership with CEPI is an important next step in our comprehensive strategy towards sustainable mRNA vaccine manufacturing in Africa. Our joint efforts are strengthening the implementation of a local mRNA vaccine ecosystem – covering the entire spectrum from research and clinical trials to commercial production.

“This, along with our continued efforts to develop mRNA vaccines against diseases like tuberculosis, malaria, HIV and mpox is aimed at bringing lasting health benefits to millions of people in Africa.”

mRNA vaccine coverage on Pharmaceutical Technology (Or Clinical Trials Arena)  is supported by Trilink. Editorial content is independently produced and follows the highest standards of journalistic integrity. Topic sponsors are not involved in the creation of editorial content.