VACCINE PRODUCTION: Moderna plans manufacturing plant in Africa to make 500 million doses a year

Biotechnology company Moderna, under intense pressure to send more of its coronavirus vaccine to lower-income countries, announced Thursday it would build a manufacturing plant in Africa capable of producing 500 million doses of messenger RNA vaccines a year.

The facility will not have an immediate impact on the coronavirus pandemic because it will take two to four years to build. The announcement comes as Moderna faces public protests from health-care advocates and behind-the-scenes pressure from the Biden administration to increase manufacturing capacity and share more doses of its coronavirus vaccine with the world.

Creating manufacturing capabilities in underserved areas of the world has become a major goal for public health advocates amid stark inequities in global access to coronavirus vaccines. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation analysis found that nearly two-thirds of people in wealthy countries have received at least one dose of a vaccine, compared with 2 percent in low-income countries.

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