BioNTech, which developed the western world’s most widely used COVID-19 shots with partner Pfizer (PFE-N),will initially build a production line with an annual capacity of 50 million doses that could be used to make vaccines for such diseases as malaria and tuberculosis as well as for COVID-19.

BioNTech (22UAY.DE) signed an agreement with the Rwandan government and Institut Pasteur de Dakar in Senegal on the construction of the first mRNA vaccine manufacturing facility in Africa starting in mid-2022, to help the continent ease health inequalities compared with other world regions.

Production will include vaccines against Covid, but also pioneering treatments currently in development against malaria, tuberculosis and HIV, diseases that are ravaging Africa. Human trials of a BioNTech malaria vaccine using mRNA technology are expected to begin in late 2022.

Africa is the world’s least vaccinated continent against Covid-19.Less than 20% of its 1.2 billion population have received two doses of vaccine.

The plant on the modular containers will enable the company to scale production as needed, according to BioNTech.

It’s expected that the first set of containers will arrive in Rwanda in late 2022, with vaccine production starting 12 to 18 months after that.

When the Rwanda facility is up and running, it will be the first mRNA vaccine plant in Africa.

The BioNTech plant is part of the European Union’s Vaccine Equity for Africa project, which was officially launched in February.

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