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Moderna Stops mRNA COVID Biologics Plant Construction in Kenya

vials for Spikevax

Moderna, Inc. announced recently that it has suspended its efforts to build a $200–$500 million mRNA (messenger ribonucleic acid) biologics manufacturing facility in Kenya while it determines projected future demand for mRNA biologics in Africa. Company officials concluded that, since the end of the COVID pandemic,  interest in COVID-19 biologics in Kenya and Africa has declined and is insufficient to support the viability of the proposed mRNA biologics manufacturing plant. Moderna confirmed that it has not received any orders for its Spikevax mRNA COVID biologic from Africa since 2022 and that previous orders for the product have been cancelled.1

Vaccine Plant in Kenya Would Have Supplied Vaccines and Drugs to African Countries

In 2021, Moderna announced that they were partnering with the Government of Kenya to build a state-of-the-art mRNA COVID biologics plant in Kenya to produce up to 500 million doses of Spikevax each year. The company expected the new facility to initiate drug substance and drug product manufacturing for Kenya and other countries in Africa. In addition, Moderna stressed that the facility would have had the capacity to quickly respond to public health emergencies in Africa.2

According to Moderna, orders for Spikevax that were cancelled resulted in over $1 billion in lost revenue for the company. Although Moderna was a major player during the COVID-19 pandemic distributing its mRNA COVID biologic globally, it has remained a relatively a small biotechnology company with Spikevax being the only pharmaceutical product approved for distribution and use in the U.S. and other countries. Since the decline in the overall demand for COVID shots, Moderna’s revenue from sales of Spikevax is projected to decline to $4 billion this year compared to $18.4 billion in 2022 and $6.7 billion in 2023. The company has also experienced a drop in its share price by more than 75 percent during the past two years.3

The company said that the cost savings from suspending construction of its Kenyan manufacturing facility will allow them to focus on other products.

Moderna to Establish mRNA Biologics Manufacturing Plants in Five Countries

In 2023, Moderna announced its commitment to establishing multiple mRNA manufacturing facilities in Kenya, the United States, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom, which the company said was an effort to “furthering health security around the world.” At the time, Moderna officials stated:4

Moderna has spent more than a decade refining its mRNA platform to accelerate the pace and success of mRNA medicines. The speed, scale, and flexibility of Moderna’s mRNA platform is uniquely suited for rapid response to serious international epidemics, commonly referred to as Disease X… Moderna will prioritize development efforts against pathogens identified as persistent global health threats, including HIV, tuberculosis (TB) and malaria, neglected tropical diseases and the priority pathogens of the World Health Organization and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations.

Moderna is developing a number of mRNA biologics, including a next-generation coronavirus biologic; a combined COVID-influenza biologic; a respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) biologic, as well as mRNA biologics targeting latent viruses, norovirus, Epstein-Barr virus, the varicella-zoster virus (VZV), multiple sclerosis (MS), and a subcategory of lymphoma in solid organ transplant patients.5

BioNTech Gets Millions from CEPI to Secure mRNA Biologics Manufacturing in Africa

Declining demand for mRNA COVID shots was rumored to be affecting the expansion plans of other pharmaceutical companies. In December 2023, German biotechnology company BioNTech SE, which partnered with Pfizer, Inc. on the Comirnaty mRNA COVID biologic, inaugurated a new $150 million mRNA biologics manufacturing facility in Kigali, Rwanda. It is the company’s first such manufacturing facility in Africa.6

Although there were earlier reports this year that BioNTech was going to scale back plans for the manufacturing of mRNA biologics in Africa, on May 29, 2024, BioNTech issued a press release announcing that an infusion of $145 million in funding from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) had been secured by the company to build “a sustainable and resilient end-to-end African vaccine ecosystem.”7

Citing support from World Health Organization (WHO) Secretary General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and African government health officials for the “strategic partnership” between BioNTech and CEPI, BioNTech co-founder and CEO Ugur Sahin, MD said:

Our partnership with CEPI is an important next step in our comprehensive strategy towards sustainable mRNA vaccine manufacturing in Africa. Our joint efforts are strengthening the implementation of a local mRNA vaccine ecosystem—covering the entire spectrum from research and clinical trials to commercial production. This, along with our continued efforts to develop mRNA vaccines against diseases like tuberculosis, malaria, HIV, and mpox is aimed at bringing lasting health benefits to millions of people in Africa.


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5 Responses

  1. I would like to know what was the exact reason for stopping the construction of that plant? This article is rather obscure about that.

  2. You mean it would have supplied death shots to African countries. Pretty sure the Africans have had enough of being the guinea pigs for “vaccines.” Just like the Tetanus shot that was tried out on the African people, and in reality, the shot was to make them sterile. No one has ever died from tetanus.
    And besides that, up to and including the Moderna mRNA Covid jab, Moderna never produced anything that worked and was going to go bankrupt, until Fauci resurrected it ( his company) with the deadly Covid shot.

  3. Didn’t Africa have the lowest Covid death rate? Didn’t they also have a very low uptake of the Covid shot?

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