Health

Moderna now links Kenya Covid jab plant to demand

jab

A health worker injects a Covid-19 vaccine to a patient in Nyeri town. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Moderna said earlier in March it expects to invest about $500 million (Sh57.5 billion) in the Kenyan vaccines manufacturing facility and supply as many as 500 million doses of mRNA vaccines to the African continent each year.
  • The company has been developing several other vaccines based on mRNA technology, including for respiratory syncytial virus, HIV and shingles.
  • Its latest update pegging its Covid 19 vaccines filling facility plans for Africa comes at a time more Kenyans have been inoculated and the prevalence of the coronavirus disease is going down.

American biotechnology firm Moderna now says its plans to start filling doses of its Covid-19 vaccine locally to serve Africa from next year will be based on demand.

The firm announced the development in regulatory filings last week. It revealed in the update its other key plan to build a manufacturing facility in Kenya, its first in Africa, to produce messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines, including Covid-19 shots is firmly on course.

Moderna said earlier in March it expects to invest about $500 million (Sh57.5 billion) in the Kenyan vaccines manufacturing facility and supply as many as 500 million doses of mRNA vaccines to the African continent each year. It also had plans to start filling doses of its Covid vaccine in Africa as early as 2023, following the deal with the Kenyan government.

“In March 2022, we entered into a memorandum of understanding with the Government of the Republic of Kenya to establish Kenya as the location for our mRNA manufacturing facility, with the assistance of the US government. We expect to build a state-of-the-art mRNA facility in Kenya to produce up to 500 million doses of vaccines each year,” said Moderna in the update.

“We anticipate investing up to $500 million in this new facility which will focus on drug substance manufacturing on the continent of Africa for the continent of Africa and could also be expanded to include fill/finish and packaging capabilities at the site. In parallel, we are also working on plans to allow us to fill doses of our Covid-19 vaccine in Africa as early as 2023, subject to demand.”

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

Its latest update pegging its Covid 19 vaccines filling facility plans for Africa comes at a time more Kenyans have been inoculated and the prevalence of the coronavirus disease is going down.

Several countries across Africa have eased pandemic-linked restrictions and relaxed rules related to masking and quarantines, even as cases rise in some regions in the rest of the world.

A fill and finish facility helps third parties put the vaccine from the main manufacturers into vials or syringes, sealing them and packaging them up for distribution.

Kenya plans to vaccinate 27.8 million Kenyans and has been acquiring doses of vaccines from Pfizer and Johnson and Johnson to supplement the Astrazeneca vaccines.

Kenya has administered 17.9 million Covid-19 vaccine doses (partially and fully in part), the Ministry of Health said on Saturday in an update.

However, the vaccination initiative has been slowed down by the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions.

Kenya lifted Covid-19 measures, including the wearing of face masks in public, after sustaining less than one percent case rate for months.

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