Moderna signs agreement for first mRNA factory in Africa

mRNA vaccine factory in Africa, Moderna vaccine
© Hanohiki

Separate to WHO efforts, Moderna signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Kenya to build the first mRNA factory in Africa

Moderna, a biotech company that manufactures COVID vaccines, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Republic of Kenya to build a new mRNA factory.

The COVID pandemic continues to be a huge problem across the globe, but especially in regions that have low access to vaccines. The vaccine hoarding of richer countries has led to a lack of availability, leaving millions of people unprotected against the virus.

COVID continues to devastate, recently passing the six million death mark.

500 million doses of mRNA expected per year

Moderna aim to invest $500 million, with a hopeful output of 500 million doses per year. The company did not say when the doses would be ready for.

This will be the first official mRNA factory in Africa, but is not connected to ongoing plans by the World Health Organisation to create technology transfer hubs throughout the region.

This factory is also unconnected to the ‘BioNTainer’ modular vaccine factory plan, which will use unpatented mRNA tech from Moderna to create shots. This modular scheme should produce vaccines for the African region in late 2023.

Right now, the plans are just for manufacturing. The company emphasises that these plans could be expanded to cover “fill/finish and packaging capabilities” on site.

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

120 factories across the world able to create mRNA vaccines

An investigation by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) found that there are factories in the recipient countries, already capable of producing mRNA vaccines.

In Senegal, there is the Institut Pasteur de Dakar, which is already in the WHO pre-qualification database for vaccines. In South Africa, there is Aspen Pharmacare, a company that has previously exported a medical product to the US.

The same investigation found 120 factories across the world – in South America, Asia and Africa – capable of creating mRNA vaccines, but legally unable to.

Moderna have also announced a combined flu-COVID vaccine for 2023. 


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