Moderna to set up Africa’s first mRNA vaccine manufacturing facility

Click to play video: 'WHO technical lead says countries need ability to purchase COVID-19 vaccines'
WHO technical lead says countries need ability to purchase COVID-19 vaccines
World Health Organization (WHO) COVID-19 technical lead Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove joined CBS' "Face the Nation" on Sunday where she said the best option for countries right now is the ability to purchase COVID-19 vaccines. "We need companies to be able to allow us to purchase those vaccines through COVAX. We need those donations to be given through COVAX so that they can be allocated to those who need them most," she said – Dec 5, 2021

Moderna Inc said on Monday it would set up a manufacturing facility in Kenya, its first in Africa, to produce messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines, including COVID-19 shots.

Moderna said it expects to invest about $500 million in the Kenyan facility and supply as many as 500 million doses of mRNA vaccines to the continent each year. It also has plans to start filling doses of its COVID vaccine in Africa as early as 2023.

Africa has lagged sharply behind other regions in vaccinating its citizens through the pandemic and there have been several efforts in recent months to help the continent produce its own mRNA COVID-19 shots.

Read more: Moderna struggles with COVID-19 vaccine ramp-up, cuts 2021 sales forecast

The World Health Organization last year set up a tech transfer hub in South Africa to give poorer nations the know-how to produce COVID-19 vaccines and has been trying to get Moderna and Pfizer to join in its efforts.

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However, in September, a senior WHO official said there had not been much progress in talks with Moderna.

WHO-backed South Africa’s Afrigen Biologics said in February it would produce a version of Moderna’s shot, though it has not yet managed to enlist the U.S. vaccine maker’s assistance.

BioNTech, which teamed up with Pfizer to make the western world’s most widely-used COVID-19 shot, has also announced plans to begin work on its mRNA manufacturing facility in the African Union this year.

Click to play video: 'Moderna says COVID-19 booster shot appears effective against Omicron variant'
Moderna says COVID-19 booster shot appears effective against Omicron variant

Moderna’s Kenyan facility would manufacture drug substance and could be expanded to include fill/finish and packaging capabilities, the company said.

Moderna’s COVID vaccine brought in $17.7 billion in sales in 2021 and has been cleared for use in over 70 countries.

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The company is developing several other vaccines based on mRNA technology, including for respiratory syncytial virus, HIV and shingles.

(Reporting by Amruta Khandekar in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli)

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