Moderna plans to spend up to $500 million to build an mRNA vaccine manufacturing plant in Africa, the Financial Times reports.
"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.," Stephane Bancel, Moderna's CEO, says in a statement.
The Financial Times adds that the plant would manufacture about 500 million vaccine doses a year, including its SARS-CoV-2 vaccine as well as other vaccines in the company's pipeline. However, FT notes that Moderna's plans are in the early stages, as it has yet to select a site for the vaccine plant and as the company estimates it would take two to four years to build the facility. Reuters notes that candidate sites may include South Africa, Rwanda, and Senegal.
The announcement, Reuters adds, comes as pharmaceutical companies and vaccine developers have been under increased pressure to manufacture drugs and vaccines in Africa.
John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said at a news conference that he had not seen the Moderna statement but that he welcomed efforts to address Africa's medium- to long-term needs, though noted this would not address the immediate issue of needing more SARS-CoV-2 doses now, according to Reuters.