Moderna announced on Monday, March 7, that it has signed a memorandum of understanding with Kenya’s government for the company’s first mRNA vaccine manufacturing facility in Africa.
Moderna stated in a statement that the goal is to generate up to 500 million vaccine doses per year for the African continent. The facility’s concentration is on drug substance synthesis, though it might be expanded to incorporate fill-and-finish work, according to the company.
“In parallel, Moderna is also working on plans to allow it to fill doses of its COVID-19 vaccine in Africa as early as 2023, subject to demand,” the company said.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought to light the critical need for vaccine production on the African continent, which is still the world’s least-vaccinated region against the coronavirus.
According to the World Health Organization, over 99 percent of the continent’s vaccine needs are met by imports.
Frustrated by wealthy countries’ vaccine hoarding, African leaders banded together to work toward the objective of increasing vaccine production on the continent’s 1.3 billion inhabitants.
Senegal and Rwanda struck an agreement with BioNTech in October last year, to build the company’s first start-to-finish plants in Africa to produce messenger RNA vaccines.
The innovative mRNA technique, which employs the genetic coding for the coronavirus’s spike protein, is anticipated to elicit a stronger immune response than standard vaccines.
Scientists intend to employ the technology, which is easier to scale up than traditional vaccine processes, to develop vaccines for other diseases, such as malaria.