Massachusetts, US-based biotechnology and pharmaceuticals firm Moderna is set to build a manufacturing facility in Kenya to produce mRNA vaccines, including those for COVID-19.
The facility is set to be Moderna’s first manufacturing plant in Africa with the company expected to invest $500-million in the construction of the facility in order to supply as many as 500-million doses of several mRNA vaccines across the continent each year.
Business Daily reports that Moderna is planning to begin filling orders for COVID-19 vaccines in Africa from as early as 2023, following a fresh deal with the Kenyan government.
“We are pleased to partner with Moderna in the establishment of this mRNA manufacturing facility to help prepare the country and our sister states on the continent through the African Union to respond to future health crises and stave off the next pandemic,” Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said after the deal was announced.
“Moderna’s investment in Kenya will help advance equitable global vaccine access and is emblematic of the structural developments that will enable Africa to become an engine of sustainable global growth,” Kenyatta added.
This latest announcement from Moderna comes amidst international pressure on major biotech firms like Moderna and Pfizer to share knowledge and expertise with manufacturers in countries that are disadvantaged when it comes to receiving COVID-19 vaccines, such as developing countries in Africa.
“Battling the COVID-19 pandemic over the last two years has provided a reminder of the work that must be done to ensure global health equity. Moderna is committed to being a part of the solution and today, we announce another step in this journey – an investment in the Republic of Kenya to build a drug substance mRNA manufacturing facility capable of supplying up to 500-million doses for the African continent each year,” Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said in a statement seen by Business Daily.
Other Vaccine Manufacturing Facilities in Africa
Along with this new Moderna facility in Kenya, other major pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and BioNTech last year partnered with the South African Biovac Institute in Cape Town.
Biovac was set to obtain the pre-vaccine drug material and substances from facilities in Europe from Pfizer and BioNTech in order to begin manufacturing finished doses of the COVID-19 vaccines in 2022.
“From day one, our goal has been to provide fair and equitable access of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to everyone, everywhere,” said Albert Bourla, chairperson and CEO of Pfizer at the time.