Rwanda to begin Covid-19 vaccine exports early next yearMessenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines, like the Pfizer and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines, teach cells how to make a protein that triggers an immune response if someone gets infected.
President Paul Kagame is to officiate at the ground-breaking ceremony for the BioNTech manufacturing plant in Kigali on June 23 in preparation of Rwanda exporting Covid-19 vaccines during the first quarter of 2023.
Last year, Senegal and Rwanda signed agreements with German company BioNTech for the construction of the company’s first start-to-finish factories to make the messenger (mRNA) vaccine. BioNTech was a pioneer in the development of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
The European Union is involved in financing construction of the facility intended to cater for Rwanda and other African countries. However the vaccines will be sold on a non-profit arrangement.
Speaking recently in Brussels to mark European Development Days, EU President, Ursula von der Leyden said: “In the coming months, we are building together with our African partners, two factories in Rwanda and Senegal to manufacture mRNA vaccines. Starting next year, these vaccines will be sold at not-for-profit prices to African countries. They will be made in Africa, for Africa, with world-class technology. Similar work is also ongoing with Ghana and South Africa.”
Across sub-Saharan Africa, much of the population is not vaccinated nor is the region receiving the same access to life-saving vaccines, as is the case of the Americas, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. In May, Kagame said: “Rapid and affordable access to the most advanced medicines and vaccines is the cornerstone of global health equity.”
Traditional vaccines put a weakened or inactivated germ into our bodies. Messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines, like the Pfizer and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines, teach cells how to make a protein that triggers an immune response if someone gets infected. When the vaccine is injected into the upper arm, the mRNA enters cells near the site of the injection and tells the cells to start making the same protein that is found in the Covid-19 virus. The immune system recognizes this protein and begins producing antibodies that can fight the virus if the vaccinated person is later infected.