Moderna will build its first mRNA production facility in Kenya, investing up to US$500m.
The plant is expected to have the capacity to fill and package 500 million doses annually. German competitor BioNTech SE has also announced plans to create production capacity in Africa, particularly designed to target the African market with mRNA-based malaria and tuberculosis vaccines that are in early development. Previous biotech start-ups Moderna and BioNTech have emerged as the world’s largest mRNA vaccine developers as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The fight against the COVID-19 pandemic has brought home to us the efforts that need to be made to ensure global health equity. Moderna is committed to being part of the solution,” said Stéphane Bancel, CEO of Moderna. The agreement is intended to lay the groundwork for commercialisation of mRNA technology on the African continent.
In mid-February, BioNTech SE presented its BioNTainer modular mRNA manufacturing solution that will be built in Africa from mid-2022. It consists of a drug substance and a formulation module, while fill-and-finish will be taken over by local African partners. Both companies are collaborating with African representatives.