The facility in Africa will eventually produce about 50 million doses of the vaccine per year, with the capacity to increase.

Senegal and Rwanda have signed an agreement with German company BioNTech for the construction of its first start-to-finish factories to make messenger RNA vaccines in Africa, the AP reports.

BioNTech, which produces the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, said Tuesday that construction will start in mid-2022. It is working with the Institut Pasteur in Dakar, Senegal’s capital, and the Rwandan government, a statement said.

“State-of-the-art facilities like this will be life-savers and game-changers for Africa and could lead to millions of cutting-edge vaccines being made for Africans, by Africans in Africa,” said Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organization’s Regional Director for Africa. “This is also crucial for transferring knowledge and know-how, bringing in new jobs and skills and ultimately strengthening Africa’s health security.”

BioNTech had already agreed in August to work with Rwanda and Senegal to establish facilities in Africa capable of end-to-end manufacturing of mRNA-based vaccines, under license.

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