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Vaccine officials visit Konza as manufacturing plans take shape

 Covid 19 vaccine. [Kibata Kihu, Standard]

In the quest for self-sufficiency in vaccine production, Kenya is making strides through the newly established BioVax Institute. 

The State agency is on a mission to lead the country in locally manufacturing human vaccines, with an ambitious plan to package vaccines within the next four years – a crucial step towards full-scale local production. 

To expedite this vision, officials from BioVax, in collaboration with Jerome Kim, Director General of the International Vaccine Institute, visited the Konza Metropolis on Tuesday. 

This site is earmarked for the construction of an end-to-end vaccine manufacturing facility, showcasing Kenya's commitment to healthcare advancement. 

In 2022, Kenya initiated the process of joining the International Vaccine Institute, recognising the potential benefits for the country and region.

This echoes Rwanda's groundbreaking for a Covid-19 vaccine production site in collaboration with BioNTech, a German company, aiming to commence production in 2025. 

The appointment of Dr Michael Lusiola as the Chief Executive Officer of BioVax in June 2022 signifies Nairobi's serious approach to the project. 

Indonesia's Bio Farma, a key player with over 130 years of experience, has entered into a strategic partnership with Kenya's BioVax. 

The collaboration focuses on technology transfer, contract manufacturing, registration, supply, and marketing of vaccines manufactured in Kenya under the terms of a health Memorandum of Understanding. 

Yuliana Indriati, Director of Business Development at Bio Farma, shared with The Standard on Sunday during a visit to the Bandung-based entity, “Bio Farma’s journey spans 130 years to reach its current position.” 

Indriati highlighted key areas of assistance, including legal transparency, harmonising registration and regulation, and facilitating human resources, such as recruiting patients for clinical trials. 

During Indonesian President Joko Widodo's visit to Nairobi in August 2022, the two State agencies committed to develop vaccines and pharmaceuticals to bolster healthcare self-reliance and mitigate supply chain challenges. 

The Kenyan government's commitment of up to Sh2 billion (USD13.85 million) underscored the significance of the BioVax project, emphasising the production of Covid-19 vaccines and other essential shots. 

The urgency to establish a human vaccine facility in Kenya stems from the recent shortage of Covid-19 vaccines, impacting mass vaccination efforts across Africa. 

Government sources have however expressed concerns about the lack of proactive follow-ups from involved parties, highlighting the importance of consistent monitoring, communication, and joint efforts for the successful implementation of MOUs.

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