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BioNTech is developing shipping container-based factories to manufacture mRNA vaccines, the Economist reports.

By adapting its manufacturing processes to standard shipping containers, the company hopes to be able to ramp up vaccine production in new locations more easily, it adds. Typically, the Economist notes that validating new pharmaceutical facilities under good manufacturing practices can take time — it says that pharmaceutical companies took eight months to ramp up vaccine production earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic. A modular, shipping container approach could remove some of the local variables, BioNTech's Ugur Sahin tells the Economist.

It adds that BioNTech plans to send these Biontainers, as they've been dubbed, to a partner country in Africa by June. "This is the future of manufacturing not only for Africa, but worldwide," Sahin tells it.

The Economist cautions, though, that there still could be regulatory and other issues to sort out.