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KEMRI partners with Biotech Giant to manufacture vaccines

The Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) on Thursday signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Kenya’s biotechnology giant Kenya Biovax Institute to partner in the processes of manufacturing vaccines, health capacity building, and creating supply security in Kenya.

KEMRI and Biovax signed the mutual deal at Kilifi KEMRI offices paving the way to new scales for collaboration to ensure health and medical research are enacted to build capacity for the production of human vaccines and other health products in the country.

In a press briefing shortly after signing the MOU, KEMRI Acting CEO and Director General Dr. Elijah Songok revealed that the institute’s great work has been used by other countries to develop useful products therefore the partnership is a key milestone to show Kenya’s capability to do research and produce its biotech stuff that can be accepted and used globally.

He added that the deal is a key milestone in the country’s biotechnology advancement and will help in promoting local manufacturing in line with the current government manifesto.

“At KEMRI, we have been discovering vaccines, drugs, and diagnosis, but some of these have been made by companies outside Kenya. But now this is a very momentous occasion that the things we are discovering can be made locally here by our own, which is Kenya Biovax”, he said.

Songok disclosed that they have already identified childhood vaccines, which are currently sourced from abroad, as their top priority project and put in place a working framework to start manufacturing them.

He said that some of the vaccines from outside the country lack reliable efficacy due to environmental differences but the expertise from both parties will ensure the childhood vaccines work better.

Kenya Biovax CEO Michael Lusiola expressed his optimism saying the agreement will open a great opportunity for the company to tap into the research and discoveries made by KEMRI to the next level of implementation, production, and commercialization of products.

He added that they will work hand in hand to make Kenya a reliable biotechnology hub in the production of vaccines and other products that will be used globally.

“We learned a lot from the pandemic, we struggled in terms of high cost of health commodities during the covid 19 pandemic. Kenya struggled to secure vaccines for our people so this is a huge opportunity for us to develop self-efficiency in terms of vaccines for our people,” he said.

According to the Kenya Biovax Institute Chairman Mugo Kibati, Kenya’s efforts to produce vaccines are about to bear fruits since the infrastructure, manpower, and expertise are in place.

“We at Biovax are just in the final stages of putting up a facility to manufacture vaccines and we look forward to benefit from the research done by KEMRI,” he said.

Kenya Biovax Institute is Kenya’s biotech giant that is mandated to innovate, develop, manufacture, and commercialize vaccines and other specialized health technologies to improve access to quality health care in Kenya.

The collaboration between the two medical experts will play a critical role in shaping the future of the biotechnological development of the Country while contributing to the global response to pandemics in the future.

By Jackson Msanzu

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