The Presidents of Ruanda and Senegal, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and EIB (EIB.org) President Werner Hoyer met BioNTech-Founder Uğur Şahin to discuss the development of vaccine production for Africa; BioNTech affirmed its intention to manufacture any vaccines arising from its development of vaccine candidates to fight malaria and tuberculosis on the African continent.
Today, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, President Macky Sall of Senegal, President Ursula von der Leyen of the European Commission and EIB President Werner Hoyer met Uğur Şahin, CEO and co-founder of BioNTech, at the Barenboim-Said-Akademie in Berlin to discuss the development of sustainable vaccine production for Africa.
The meeting, which was convened by the kENUP Foundation on behalf of BioNTech, took place on the margins of the G20 Compact with Africa Summit hosted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Also in attendance were Dr John Nkengasong, Director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Africa Regional Director, and Werner Hoyer, President of the European Investment Bank (EIB).
The meeting resulted in a joint communiqué affirming BioNTech’s intention to manufacture any vaccines arising from the development of its malaria and tuberculosis vaccine candidates in Africa. The company has started evaluating manufacturing options in Rwanda and Senegal following the guidance of the African Union. These options will be co-located with the WHO’s upcoming vaccine hubs. In the interim, it should be possible to develop BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine in local facilities for distribution in Africa. Other vaccine and pharmaceutical production facilities may also be established in these hubs to ensure a sustainable commercial and scientific ecosystem.
BioNTech’s malaria project is part of the eradicateMalaria initiative, led by the kENUP Foundation, to accelerate the eradication of malaria. The kENUP Foundation is a non-profit public benefit foundation supporting research-based innovation in the wider health industries for societal benefit. Following the guidance of the WHO and the eradicateMalaria Scientific Advisory Board, further projects by various companies may be considered under the eradicateMalaria scheme.
Collaboration Africa CDC under the Partnership for African Vaccine Manufacturing programme will ensure that the enabling factors such as regulatory alignment, policy transfer and country coordination are in place to get the vaccines from factories into the arms of people in Africa, and beyond.
“We would like to thank all participants for today’s discussion, their support and the trust they put in us. Our goal is the development of vaccines in Africa and the set-up of sustainable vaccine production capabilities to jointly improve the quality of medical care,” said Ugur Sahin, CEO and co-founder of BioNTech. “We are committed to investing in cutting-edge research and innovation to support vaccine development, the establishment of manufacturing facilities, and the transfer of manufacturing expertise to production sites on the African continent.”
Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission: “This cooperation is an important moment for Africa and a great step towards vaccine equity. mRNA vaccines are cutting-edge technology. And it’s a powerful sign that we all join forces to make it possible to produce them in Africa. Team Europe is investing at least €1 billion to facilitate manufacturing and access to vaccines in Africa. And we are proud to be a partner in this endeavour.”
Werner Hoyer, President of the European Investment Bank: “Scaling up local vaccine production is crucial to beating COVID and strengthening resilience to future pandemics. Since the start of the COVID pandemic, the European Investment Bank has worked closely with African and international partners to support private and public investment to improve health and ensure that businesses can invest. We welcome this new initiative and stand ready to provide technical experience and financial backing in the coming months.”
John Nkengasong, Director of Africa CDC: “Africa CDC, in its role leading the AU Partnership for African Vaccine Manufacturing (PAVM), welcomes this demonstration of the commitment of kENUP, BioNTech and the European Union to expanding vaccine manufacturing capacity on the African continent. The PAVM aims to increase vaccine manufacturing across Africa from 1% to 60% by 2040, prioritising endemic and outbreak-prone diseases, and also focusing on conditions that disproportionately affect our continent such as HIV and malaria. The ambition is to leverage new technology in support of a sustainable manufacturing industry on the continent. This initiative joins others across the continent in pushing forward this vision. We encourage other partners, manufacturers, financiers and others to join us to make this ambition a reality.