Moderna seals agreement to build mRNA facility in Kenya

By Ben Hargreaves

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images
© Getty Images

Related tags Kenya Moderna Vaccine mRNA Hiv Zika

The company finalizes a deal to establish its first manufacturing facility in Africa, which will have the capacity to produce 500 million vaccine doses per year.

Moderna announced that it had made the agreement with the government of Kenya for a drug substance and drug product manufacturing facility in the country. The company states that the vaccines produced in the country will supply Kenya and the African continent.

The mRNA facility will allow for the production of up to 500 million doses of vaccines each year, but will also hold ‘surge capacity’ to scale and respond to public health emergencies in Africa and around the world.

Moderna’s CEO, Stéphane Bancel, outlined that the facility could help in areas of high unmet need, such as acute respiratory infections, as well as other infectious disease threats, such as HIV, Zika and Ebola.

The move also represents a broader effort to expand the company’s global manufacturing network, with Moderna having made commitments, or already having a presence, in Kenya, the US, Canada, Australia, and the UK.

For Kenya, the country signaled that Moderna’s move represented a successful effort to attract investment. According to Kenya’s cabinet secretary for investments, trade and industry, Moses Kuria, “This investment creates the momentum to meet the $10bn (€9.2bn) annual target under the government's manufacturing 20 by 30 vision, where we plan to grow the contribution of manufacturing to GDP to 20% by the year 2030 from the current 7%.”

Current levels of foreign direct investment in the country are at $448m annually.

Moderna’s global expansion

Moderna’s decision to invest in Kenya to supply the African continent with its mRNA vaccines arrives after the company announced a series of manufacturing and R&D expansions globally.

Earlier this year​, the company revealed it would broaden its presence in the US by opening new offices in San Francisco and Seattle. Further than this, it revealed that it has global plans to hire around 2,000 new employees this year – markedly contrasting against the layoffs being experienced across the technology and biotech sectors in recent times.

A few weeks prior to the move to expand in the US, Moderna also noted that it would create two buildings​ in Oxford, UK, which would carry out R&D and manufacturing. Similar to the agreement in Kenya, the plan to expand in the UK was supported by the government, which provided significant funding​ towards Moderna establishing a manufacturing presence in the country.

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