What do you get if you mix 12 delivery containers and among the most modern science surrounding vaccines there may be?

A futuristic strategy to make in-demand vaccines.

BioNTech has made it identified for months now that it desires to determine home manufacturing ops for vaccines in Africa, the place entry is an enormous problem and vaccination charges for Covid path properly behind prosperous international locations. And on Wednesday the corporate revealed its first “modular” mRNA manufacturing services in Senegal, Rwanda and “probably South Africa.”

Senegal and Rwanda are set to begin setting up the primary services in mid-2022.

The services are built-to-use websites comprised of stacking delivery containers. Early Wednesday morning, the title BioNTainer was revealed in a gathering at BioNTech’s Marburg web site. The ability consists of a drug substance module and a formulation module, that’s constructed of six standard-sized containers and permits for bulk mRNA manufacturing and formulation. Fill-and-finish operations will probably be handed over to corporations in Ghana and South Africa, BioNTech mentioned in an announcement.

It’s to be comprised of delivery containers — which implies that upon completion, it may be positioned on a ship, truck, airplane or practice to be dropped at its last vacation spot. In different phrases, they are going to be in-built Germany after which shipped to specified websites in Africa.

The brand new websites will present a less expensive strategy to make vaccines. Proper now, the main focus is on mRNA for Covid-19 vaccines. Nevertheless, CEO Uğur Şahin has beforehand mentioned that the corporate will look to make malaria vaccines when the demand for Covid-19 vaccines wanes.

On the similar time, activists say that, with the brand new effort, BioNTech continues to ignores alternate options that may permit for extra direct vaccine manufacturing on the continent, together with by transferring its know-how to established home African corporations.

Moreover, on Wednesday, he mentioned that the websites can even manufacture HIV vaccines and most cancers therapies in the event that they’re permitted. The BioNTainer, the corporate claims, just isn’t a set resolution, however reasonably a versatile resolution, that can be capable of be scaled appropriately. It is going to have the capability to provide 50 million doses of mRNA vaccines a 12 months, but when an organization must shrink that quantity for scientific trials, it is going to be ready to take action.

Sierk Poetting

There isn’t any set value but, however CFO Sierk Poetting mentioned that it is going to be a much more inexpensive technique than constructing extra freestanding manufacturing campuses.

“A typical (manufacturing web site) would value $150 million. That is manner cheaper. Not low-cost, low-cost, however manner cheaper,” he mentioned Wednesday.

The idea just isn’t terribly completely different from CureVac’s proposed RNA printer, which attracted the eye, and later, the funding of Tesla founder Elon Musk.

That RNA printer goals to make mRNA manufacturing moveable and would be capable of be positioned anyplace from a hospital to an airport to supply personalised medication as a fast response to outbreaks. Initially, CureVac’s focus was on Lassa fever, yellow fever and rabies, but it surely pivoted amidst the Covid-19 outbreak. Şahin and Poetting mentioned that it’s powerful to check the BioNTainer to the RNA printer, due to the restricted data they’ve.

BioNTech additionally pledged African entry to future most cancers medicine on the Wednesday morning assembly, stating that they’d be out there and inexpensive.

Vaccines made within the BioNTainer are anticipated for use in Africa at a not-for-profit worth. Sahin clarified on Wednesday morning which means at-cost. There gained’t be any doses manufactured in 2022, as a result of set up of the primary websites gained’t be till the midway level, however by 2023, the corporate might produce as much as 50 million doses, if there’s a want for such a quantity.

Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo mentioned in an announcement:

At this time represents a momentous day for Mom Africa. One other step within the course of in the direction of self-reliance has been taken, and I thank the German biotechnology firm, BioNTech, and the kENUP Basis for his or her contribution to this finish. We wish to obtain self-sufficiency in vaccine manufacturing to fulfill future nationwide, regional and continental wants for well being safety. Ghana reaffirms her dedication to make this Pan-African vaccine mission work and succeed.

The corporate is engaged on a number of completely different formulations of its Covid-19 collaboration with Pfizer. Proper now, it’s working to realize a formulation that may very well be saved at room temperature for a number of months. And any improve that’s made at its manufacturing headquarters in Marburg may very well be applied within the BioNTainers inside just a few weeks.

However the announcement comes after a report from the BMJ that the kENUP Basis, backed by BioNTech, allegedly tried to dissuade African governments from collaborating in WHO packages to spice up manufacturing in Africa by saying the mission was doomed and that the container resolution was a viable different. The nonprofit argued that the know-how switch hub needs to be terminated instantly with a purpose to preserve from infringing on mRNA patents.

And the announcement was met with additional criticism from activists Wednesday morning, who say it circumvents extra direct means of manufacturing vaccines on the continent. MSF marketing campaign supervisor Lara Dovifat tweeted that the mission ignores the truth that there are greater than 100 corporations in middle-income international locations which can be able to manufacture vaccines immediately, if allowed a know-how switch.

3) Whereas it’s attention-grabbing to see that @BioNTech_Group is lastly taking steps to provide #mRNA vaccines in African international locations with #BioNTainer, it’s vital to underline that the corporate’s plan is taking a very long time and comes with many unknowns.

— Lara Dovifat (@LDovifat) February 16, 2022

UK-based nonprofit World Justice Now was a bit extra pointed in its criticisms, tweeting out, “Nothing says ‘dedication to Covid-19 vaccine factories in Africa’ like with the ability to ship them again to Europe at a second’s discover.”

After a 12 months of stalling efforts to scale up international vaccine manufacturing, BioNTech’s pop-up vaccine factories are little greater than a neo-colonial stunt to try to preserve management of this life-saving know-how in Africa.#BioNTainer #PeoplesVaccinehttps://t.co/1J7aUAFXuu

— World Justice Now (@GlobalJusticeUK) February 16, 2022