US biotechnology company Moderna Inc anticipates investing over $500 million in a planned vaccine and drug manufacturing facility in Kenya, the presidency said Monday.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding Monday between his country and Moderna in the capital Nairobi.
The new facility will help solve the problem of vaccine inequity experienced across Africa, which has not received its fair share of COVID-19 vaccines.
“We are celebrating one of the greatest things that have possibly happened since the onset of COVID-19 on the African continent,” Kenyatta said, pointing out that African countries faced challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic.
He noted that the challenges were not because of a lack of finances to purchase the vaccines but because the vaccines were not available for them to purchase.
The state-of-the-art mRNA facility, which will focus on drug substance manufacturing, is expected to produce up to 500 million doses of vaccines each year.
“It will be transformative not just in helping us with the current pandemic but also preparing the continent of Africa for future pandemics,” Kenyatta added.
Moderna’s Chief Executive Officer Stephane Bancel said his company is committed to partnering to provide a health solution, saying the investment the company is making in Kenya is crucial, as it is part of the solution to ensuring global health equity.
Dr. John Nkengasong, the director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, said the setting up of the facility is critical to Africa’s security, noting the production of the vaccines will ensure that the continent is able to tackle current and future health challenges.