By Gift Briton
The World Health Organization(WHO), South African government and other international partners are collaborating to build and develop mRNA vaccine hub in South Africa, an initiative which aims at producing COVID-19, HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria vaccines.
For greater part of 2021, inadequate supply of COVID-19 vaccine globally, left billions of people mostly from African countries unprotected against serious disease and death from the pandemic.
With the development of mRNA vaccine hub in South Africa under way, African countries will be able to cope with the current and future epidemics and pandemics.
Speaking during a press conference held at the Biomedical Research Institute in South Africa, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director-General, WHO said that the pandemic highlighted the need for increased local production of vaccines globally, especially in low- and middle-income countries.
Adding that WHO mRNA global hub is a major step in that direction, by sharing technology and building on the capacity and scientific expertise that already exists in South Africa.
“Covid-19 has demonstrated the importance of investments in science, technology and innovation. Therefore, preparing for future pandemics is key and so the WHO mRNA global hub is a critical building block to ensure that South Africa and the whole continent has the production capacity that is essential for equitable vaccine rollout,” said Dr Blade Nzimande, Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology of South Africa.
The initiative will provide a training facility where mRNA technology is developed to the scale required for mass production of vaccines and then for that full package of technology to be transferrable to multiple recipients in low- and middle-income countries.
Dr Joe Phaahla, South African Health Minister, noted that the new hub is not just for South Africa but rather a one stop shop for low- and middle-income countries across the world to benefit from the technology transferred, along with the know-how, so they can also produce mRNA vaccines, which will be critical in ending vaccine inequality.
“The mRNA hubs provide an unprecedented opportunity for capacity development, putting Africa on the path to self-reliance. This initiative will enable the continent to better protect against outbreaks, control the COVID-19 pandemic and develop new vaccines, accelerating the elimination of deadly diseases such as HIV, malaria and tuberculosis. We are opening the door to better health and wellbeing for our people,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, Regional Director of WHO Regional Office for Africa.
“This virus shows how interconnected we all are and I am proud that Belgium and other European Union countries are now collaborating to build vaccine capacity everywhere. Going forward we need more sharing of licenses, technology transfer and know-how so that in this pandemic and future ones as we can roll vaccines out quickly and equitably to the whole global population,” said
Welcoming the idea,
Meryame Kitir, Minister of Development Cooperation and Urban Policy of Belgium said applauded the idea of Belgium and European Union Countries collaborating to build vaccine capacity everywhere.
“Going forward we need more sharing of licenses, technology transfer and know-how so that in this pandemic and future ones as we can roll vaccines out quickly and equitably to the whole global population,” Kitir said.