MPs recall Sh500m for vaccine plant set up

Economy

MPs recall Sh500m for vaccine plant set up


Parliament building in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • The Budget and Appropriations Committee (BAC) backed the Health Committee’s recommendation to slash the Sh900 million seed capital that the Treasury allocated for a vaccine manufacturing plant in the mini-budget.
  • The Health Committee had proposed a cut of Sh400 million but the BAC enhanced it to Sh500 million.
  • BAC did not provide reasons advanced by the Health committee to justify the huge cut on the budget for construction of the Covid-19 manufacturing plant.

Parliament has slashed the budget set aside for building a factory in Kenya to make vaccines including for Covid-19 by Sh500 million.

This is after the Budget and Appropriations Committee (BAC) backed the Health Committee’s recommendation to slash the Sh900 million seed capital that the Treasury allocated for a vaccine manufacturing plant in the mini-budget.

The Health Committee had proposed a cut of Sh400 million but the BAC enhanced it to Sh500 million.

“Reduce Sh500 million (development) from establishment of vaccine plant. The committee (Health) had reduced the same project by Sh400 million, ”the committee said in a report on the Supplementary Budget I for 2021/22 financial year.

BAC did not provide reasons advanced by the Health committee to justify the huge cut on the budget for construction of the Covid-19 manufacturing plant.

Kenya had in January invited firms through a global tender to bid for the construction of a Covid-19 vaccine plant the Kenya BioVax Institute, a state-owned commercial and manufacturing firm

The State has since picked American biotechnology firm Moderna to set up a manufacturing facility in Kenya, its first in Africa, to produce messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines, including Covid-19 shots.

Moderna said it expects to invest about $ 500 million (Sh56.5 billion) in the Kenyan facility and supply as many as 500 million doses of mRNA vaccines to the African continent each year.

It also has plans to start filling doses of its Covid vaccine in Africa as early as 2023, following a deal with the Kenyan government.

“We are pleased to partner with Moderna in the establishment of this mRNA manufacturing facility to help prepare the country and our sister states on the continent through the African Union to respond to future health crises and stave off the next pandemic,” President Uhuru Kenyatta said after announcing the deal.

“Moderna’s investment in Kenya will help advance equitable global vaccine access and is emblematic of the structural developments that will enable Africa to become an engine of sustainable global growth.”

Moderna’s announcement comes amid mounting pressure on biotech firms to share their expertise with manufacturers in countries that desperately need more coronavirus vaccine doses. President Kenyatta has previously led the calls among African leaders.

Moderna’s Covid vaccine brought in $ 17.7 billion in sales in 2021 and has been cleared for use in over 70 countries including Kenya.

“Battling the Covid-19 pandemic over the last two years has provided a reminder of the work that must be done to ensure global health equity. Moderna is committed to being a part of the solution and today, we announce another step in this journey – an investment in the Republic of Kenya to build a drug substance mRNA manufacturing facility capable of supplying up to 500 million doses for the African continent each year, “Moderna chief executive Stéphane Bancel said in a statement.

The company is developing several other vaccines based on mRNA technology, including for respiratory syncytial virus, HIV and shingles.

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