BioNTech plans to set up mRNA vaccine production facilities in Africa, according to the Financial Times. It adds that the move aims to tackle diseases beyond COVID-19.
According to FT, the European Union plans to increase vaccine manufacturing in Africa, which currently must import most vaccines it needs, and BioNTech co-founder Ugur Sahin described his idea to build production facilities there in a video call with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen ahead of the upcoming G7 meeting.
"From the technology side, there is no reason why [vaccine production in Africa] should not be possible," Sahin tells FT. "And because there's no reason anymore, we have to make it possible."
As Axios has previously reported, mRNA-based vaccines could be applied to a host of diseases, including influenza and malaria, and even cancer. FT notes that BioNTech is developing an mRNA-based vaccine for tuberculosis.
It adds that it will take years for BioNTech to get the facilities up and running. Sahin tells it that he expects it would take about a year to train a partner there to "fill and finish" vaccine does and about four years to ramp up capacity to handle earlier stages of vaccine production.