American vaccine maker Moderna has signed a deal with Kenya to set up mRNA manufacturing centre in the country, one of a kind in Africa.
The move follows a decision by the World Health Organization to create a global mRNA vaccine hub in South Africa last year, with Kenya among six African nations selected to be the first recipients of the technology aimed at enabling local manufacturers to make jabs.
President Uhuru Kenyatta, who witnessed the signing of the deal said Kenya is “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.”
The company anticipates investing up to $500 million in the new facility, which will focus on drug substance manufacturing in Africa for Africa, and is expected to produce up to 500 million doses of vaccines annually.
Being at the forefront championing for the African continent to manufacture its own COVID-19 vaccines in order to meet the demand of its population, the President lauded Moderna for coming up to fill the space, saying the move will be a game changer especially for Kenya which has had a vision to produce vaccines.
“We are truly grateful for this and I think it will be transformative not just in helping us with the current pandemic but also preparing the continent of Africa for future pandemics.”
Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said his company is committed to partnering to provide a health solution saying the investment the company is making in Kenya is crucial as it is part of the solution to ensuring global health equity.
“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,” Bancel said.
Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said, “Kenya recognizes and appreciates the collaboration of Moderna in building our local manufacturing capacity. This will ensure as a country and region we can quickly respond to health demands requiring Vaccine commodities.”
WHO chief Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus has repeatedly called for equitable access to vaccines in order to beat the pandemic, and attacked wealthy nations for hogging doses.
Currently, only one percent of the vaccines used in Africa are produced on the continent.