Plans are in the pipeline for Kenya to open a filling plant for Covid-19 vaccines next year, Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe has revealed in a vaccination dossier.
The deal, which is a collaboration with unnamed pharmaceutical giant, would see Kenya join South Africa, Senegal and Rwanda in Africa which are also engaged in similar undertaking.
The move would greatly ease Covid-19 vaccine supply hitches that have derailed mass inoculation campaign across Africa.
“A full-fledged vaccine manufacturing plant will be built by 2024,” said Mr Kagwe.
“A fill-and-finish facility helps third parties put the vaccine from the main manufacturers into vials or syringes, sealing them and packaging them up for distribution,” said Mr Kagwe in the National Covid-19 Vaccine Deployment Plan, 2021.
Mr Kagwe noted that local production will help secure sufficient doses to boost the deployment of vaccines across Kenya.
Kenya projects to vaccinate 26 million adults by June next year and at least 10 million by Christmas, this year.
Meanwhile, Rwandan President Paul Kagame had said that Covid-19 vaccine donations will not cut it for Africa, and the continent needs to set up vaccine manufacturing plants to end reliance on the West.
His remarks came a week after BioNTech, a German biotechnology company producing the Pfizer vaccine, announced that it was considering building vaccine making sites in Rwanda and Senegal.
“It takes a long time for African countries to get Covid-19 vaccines, and when the vaccines get here, many people are already in critical health conditions. That is why it is important for Africa to find a way to manufacture vaccines,” President Kagame said.
As of today, there are at least a dozen Covid-19 production facilities set up or in the pipeline across six African countries.
In South Africa, the US International Development Finance Corporation, along with European partners, announced a $710 million financing package for Aspen Pharmacare, which has already produced millions of doses and will “fill-and-finish” roughly 500 million Johnson & Johnson doses by the end of 2022.
South Africa’s Biovac Institute has also agreed to accelerate fill-and-finish Pfizer vaccine manufacturing site in Cape Town from 2022.
In Senegal, the government, with support from the US and Europe is building a $200 million Covid-19 vaccine manufacturing facility with the Fondation Institut Pasteur de Dakar.
Starting in November this year, the Egypt will start producing Chinese Sinovac with a planned capacity of one billion vaccines annually.
In its latest report on the pandemic, WHO has shown that a third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic is on the rise across Africa, a continent which has fully vaccinated only three per cent of its 1.2 billion people.