The pharmaceutical giant Moderna aims to produce more than 500 million doses of its vaccine against Covid-19 on African territory each year.
African countries and the World Health Organization (WHO) have been urging drugmakers for months to set up vaccine factories on the continent to help secure supplies of anit-coronavirus vaccines that have been sucked up by the richest countries.
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.
“We plan to manufacture our COVID-19 vaccine as well as additional products within our mRNA vaccine portfolio at this facility”, said CEO Stéphane Bancel in a statement.
Moderna, which is currently making its coronavirus vaccine at its Norwood, Massachusetts plant, in conjunction with CDMO production in New Hampshire and Switzerland, has pledged to roll out 1 billion doses of the treatment this year and maybe 3 billion in 2022.
The drugmaker, which was founded just over a decade ago, has 20 vaccine candidates in its preclinical and clinical pipelines focused on respiratory viruses, latent viruses and global health threats such as the Zika virus.
The announcement comes as pharmaceutical companies face increasing pressure to lift patents on their coronavirus vaccines to help produce doses in areas where fewer have been received.
The World Health Organization’s office for Africa said that half of the countries on the continent that have received vaccines have fully immunized less than two percent of their population.
In July, Pfizer Laboratories and BioNTech announced that they were partnering with the Biovac group to bottle their serum in Cape Town, South Africa, starting in 2022. However, the creation of messenger RNA, the most delicate and most crucial, will continue to be carried out in Europe.