Six African countries to start manufacturing mRNA vaccines


World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said six countries in Africa will receive technology that will enable them to manufacture mRNA vaccines for the continent after applying and being selected under a a program of the World Health Organization. File photo by World Health Organization/Twitter

February 18 (UPI) — Six countries in Africa will receive technology that will enable them to manufacture mRNA vaccines for the continent after applying and being selected under a World Health Organization program.

The WHO said in a report On Friday, Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia will receive support to boost commercial-scale manufacturing from the global mRNA technology transfer center.

The center, established in 2021 to address hoarding and supply issues during the COVID-19 pandemic, is part of a wider WHO effort to enable low- and middle-income countries around the world to produce their own vaccines and treatments during health emergencies beyond the coronavirus.

“This is an initiative that will allow us to manufacture our own vaccines and that, for us, is very important,” said South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.

“It means mutual respect, mutual recognition of what we can all bring to the party, investing in our savings, investing in infrastructure and in many ways giving back to the continent.”

Using mRNA technologies, countries could create their own insulin, cancer drugs, vaccines to protect against diseases like malaria, tuberculosis and HIV.

WHO has also worked to establish a training center to help countries develop their research and production capacity in biomanufacturing, with the first training starting with selected countries in March.

On Thursday, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus met Werner Hoyer, President of the European Investment Bank, to discuss a pledge of $565.8 million to invest in health systems in Africa “to close the health financing gap”.

WHO data shows there have been 8,264,647 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Africa since the start of the pandemic with just 59 new cases reported on the continent on Friday. There have been 167,702 reported deaths in Africa, the fewest of the six regions tracked by the WHO.

More than 202.2 million of the continent’s 1.3 billion people have received at least one dose of the vaccine, of which 127.4 million are considered fully immunized.

The most common vaccine in Africa is the Sinopharm vaccine produced by the Beijing Bio-Institute of Biological Products, a subsidiary of the China National Biotec Group. AstraZeneca vaccine and Covishield vaccine manufactured by Serum Institute of India also dominated the African market.

The majority of vaccines in the country have been provided through bilateral and multilateral agreements, although some come from donations.

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