The goal is to produce up to 500 million doses of vaccines per year for the African continent, Moderna said in a statement. The focus is on drug manufacturing, he said, although the facility could be expanded to include fill-and-finish work.
“In parallel, Moderna is also working on plans to fill doses of its COVID-19 vaccine in Africa as early as 2023, subject to demand,” the company said.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the huge need for vaccine manufacturing on the African continent, which remains the least vaccinated region in the world against the coronavirus. The continent depends on imports for around 99% of its vaccine needs, the World Health Organization has said.
Frustrated by the hoarding of vaccines from wealthy countries, African leaders have united to pursue the goal of bringing more vaccine manufacturing to the continent of 1.3 billion people.
In October, Senegal and Rwanda signed an agreement with BioNTechModerna signs with Kenya for the first mRNA facility in Africa to build its first end-to-end factories to manufacture messenger RNA vaccines in Africa.
The new mRNA process uses the genetic code for the coronavirus spike protein and is thought to trigger a better immune response than traditional vaccines. Scientists hope the technology, which is easier to scale than traditional vaccination methods, could eventually be used to make vaccines against other diseases, including malaria.