Pharmaceuticals Urged to Help Poorest Countries
In a recent announcement made by Moderna, the US-based biotechnology company will be investing up to US$500mn to deliver the development of a new factory in Africa for the production of 500mn mRNA vaccines; including the COVID-19 vaccine.
The announcement follows the pharmaceutical industry’s increased pressure to manufacture drugs in the continent. Countries in Africa and the World Health Organisation (WHO) have been urging pharmaceuticals to set up vaccine plants on the continent to secure supplies of the COVID-19 vaccine.
The announcement also comes at a time when there is a call for intellectual property rights for the COVID-19 vaccine to be waived to not only help end the pandemic but give more developing countries access to the vaccine, a move backed by the US in May 2021.
Currently, on the Continent, only around 4.5% have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to John Nkengasong, Africa’s Public Health Official.
What Should the Continent Expect From the Factory?
The proposed site is expected to include drug substance manufacturing, as well as bottling and packaging capabilities. Moderna has stated that it will begin the deciding process on the suitable location soon.
“Since Moderna’s founding in 2010, our mission has been to make a transformative impact on human lives through our medicines. After a decade of pioneering the development of our mRNA platform, we have been humbled to play a critical role in combating the COVID-19 pandemic globally with our mRNA vaccine. We view Moderna’s work as only just beginning,” said Stephane Bancel, Chief Executive Officer, Moderna.
“On behalf of our growing team, partners and shareholders, we are determined to extend Moderna’s societal impact through the investment in a state-of-the-art mRNA manufacturing facility in Africa. While we are still working to increase capacity in our current network to deliver vaccines for the ongoing pandemic in 2022, we believe it is important to invest in the future. We expect to manufacture our COVID-19 vaccine as well as additional products within our mRNA vaccine portfolio at this facility.