2023 is the year for plug-in manufacturing, says BioNTech

BioNTech will make the first mRNA vaccines in Africa this year using its plug-in manufacturing tech, the firm told JP Morgan Conference delegates.

Last week, CEO of BioNTech Ugur Sahin described to JPM delegates how the learnings of the pandemic highlighted that “poor countries didn’t get vaccines doses.”

However, Sahin offered up a solution to this, saying “the only way to change that is to implement manufacturing technology.” In particular, he drew upon the company’s activity in Rwanda, Africa but the firm confirmed it has also “identified other sites, for example, in Senegal [and] we are thinking about South Africa.”

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The firm signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Rwandan government in October 2021 to begin building a messenger RNA (mRNA) plant last summer.

The plug-in modular mRNA manufacturing technology, called BioNTainer, was announced in February 2021.  According to Sahin, the BioNTainers differ from traditional manufacturing facility scale-out as they do not require “many years and huge investment” to become operational.

Instead, Sahin told delegates the BioNTainer “concept is more or less a plug-in manufacturing technology, which allows with a containerized system to produce up to 60 million in the second phase up to 100 million doses of vaccines in container-based, automated, digitally controlled factories.”

2023

BioNTech’s first factory will be implemented “in 2023, and we plan to produce the first mRNA vaccines on the African continent” in the same year, Sahin said. The company believes that by deploying a modular system, the technology will become accessible.

In turn, Sahin said it could result in the creating of “true independence by access to technology, and we will combine that also with a collaborative approach, getting access to talents, training the people there, so that they can really manage these new technologies by their own. So that’s our plan.”

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