Moderna plans vaccine factory in Africa
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MODERNA plans to invest up to $500 million to build a factory in Africa to make up to 500 million doses of mRNA vaccines each year, including its Covid-19 shot, as pressure grows on the pharmaceutical industry to manufacture drugs on the continent.
African countries and the World Health Organization (WHO) have been urging drug makers for months to set up vaccine plants on the continent to help it secure supplies of Covid-19 shots that have been hoovered up by wealthier nations.
As of Thursday, only about 4.5% of Africans had been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, according to the continent’s top public health official, John Nkengasong.
Moderna’s proposed site is expected to include drug substance manufacturing as well as bottling and packaging capabilities. The US drug maker said it would begin the process of deciding the country and location soon.
“We expect to manufacture our Covid-19 vaccine as well as additional products within our mRNA vaccine portfolio at this facility,” chief executive Stephane Bancel said in a statement.
Potential candidates to host Moderna’s African plant include South Africa, Rwanda and Senegal, health experts say, although a senior South African official involved in a drive to boost local vaccine manufacturing said he wasn’t aware of the Moderna announcement.
South Africa’s Health Department didn’t respond to a request for comment.