Moderna to build Sh57bn Covid vaccine plant in Kenya


A woman receives a Covid 19 vaccine at Kencom bus stop in Nairobi last year. FILE PHOTO | NMG

American biotechnology firm Moderna will 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 (Sh56.5 billion) in the Kenyan facility and supply as many as 500 million doses of mRNA vaccines to the African continent each year.

It also has plans to start filling doses of its Covid vaccine in Africa as early as 2023, following a deal with the Kenyan government.

"We are 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," President Uhuru Kenyatta said after announcing the deal.

"Moderna's investment in Kenya will help advance equitable global vaccine access and is emblematic of the structural developments that will enable Africa to become an engine of sustainable global growth."

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. President Kenyatta has previously led the calls among African leaders.

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

"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," Moderna chief executive Stéphane Bancel said in a statement.

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

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