Pharmaceutical company BioNTech said Monday that it wants to use the mRNA technology behind its COVID-19 vaccine to target malaria.
The Germany-based company, which developed the first widely approved COVID-19 shot together with U.S. partner Pfizer, aims to begin clinical trials for a “safe and highly effective malaria vaccine” by the end of next year.
BioNTech said it is also seeking to establish an mRNA vaccine production facility in Africa, which is among the regions that have struggled to get a sufficient supply of COVID-19 vaccine doses.
The company said it is working with partners to “evaluate how to establish sustainable mRNA manufacturing capabilities on the African continent to supply African countries with vaccines.” Once built, such a facility would be able to make various mRNA-based vaccines.
BioNTech and Pfizer have said they will deliver 1 billion doses of their COVID-19 vaccine to middle- and low-income countries this year, and another billion doses in 2022.
Last week, the two companies announced that a South African firm, the Biovac Institute, will become the first on the continent to start producing their COVID-19 vaccine.
BioNTech has previously said it is working on a vaccine candidate for tuberculosis, with clinical trials aimed for 2022, and therapies for several forms of cancer.