KENYA – Kenya has partnered with American biotechnology firm Moderna to set up the first mRNA manufacturing facility in Africa which is expected to produce up to 500 million doses of vaccines each year.

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe signed the agreement on behalf of the Kenyan Government while Shannon Klinger who is the Moderna’s chief legal officer signed on behalf of the company.

Moderna intends to invest up to US$500 million (KES 57 billion) in building this new facility which will focus on drug substance manufacturing on the continent of Africa for Africa.

The state-of-the-art mRNA facility in Africa could also be expanded to include fill/finish and packaging capabilities of its COVID-19 vaccine at the site as early as 2023.

Moreover, the mRNA global public health vaccine program including vaccine programs against HIV and Nipah virus will ensure sustainable access to transformative mRNA innovation on the African continent.

In its prophylactic vaccines’ modality, Moderna’s mRNA pipeline includes 28 vaccine programs including vaccines against respiratory viruses, vaccines against latent viruses and vaccines against threats to global public health.

Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta has been championing for Africa to manufacture its own COVID-19 vaccines in order to meet the demand of its population as well as help arrest emerging pandemics.

He noted that the setting up of the mRNA manufacturing facility will help to address the challenges faced by the African continent in buying COVID-19 vaccines during the COVID-19 pandemic since vaccines were not available for countries to purchase.

Kenya and the entire continent of Africa went through challenges in the earlier stages of COVID-19 pandemic that resulted in Africa being left behind in vaccination coverage due to lack of available vaccines. The Moderna Company has come to fill that space,” restated President Uhuru.

The President acknowledged the Director for Africa Centre for Disease Control Dr. John Nkengasong and the Government of America for supporting Kenya in its endeavor to set up the facility.

He further thanked the American Government for the support given to Kenya and the African continent in vaccine donations as well as financial aid at their time of need.

Dr. John Nkengasong said the vaccine manufacturing facility is critical to Africa’s security and the production of vaccines will ensure the continent is able to tackle current and future health challenges.

Moderna’s Chief Executive Officer Stéphane Bancel assured of his company’s commitment to meaningful partnerships aiming at providing a health solution.

Moderna’s announcement comes amid mounting pressure on biotech firms to share their expertise with manufacturers in countries that desperately need more coronavirus vaccine doses.

He explained that the investment Moderna is making in Kenya is crucial as it is part of the solution to ensuring global health equity and positively impacting public health.

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,” said Stéphane Bancel, Chief Executive Officer of Moderna.

Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine brought in US$17.7 billion in sales in 2021 and has been cleared for use in over 70 countries including Kenya.

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

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