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New Consortium Working To Boost Vaccine Production In South Africa

The consortium intends to bring together partners for the establishment of the South African mRNA technology transfer hub.

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Justina Asishana
Justina Asishana
Justina Asishana is a Nigerian from Edo state. She is a data and investigative journalist who also fact-checks. She covers health, agriculture, education and governance

GENEVA: To address the global imbalance of the manufacturing of the COVID-19 vaccine, Sven global organizations have signed a letter of intent to boost vaccine production.

The organizations include the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP), the World Health Organization (WHO),  Afrigen Biologics (PTY) Limited, the Biologicals and Vaccines Institute of Southern Africa  (Biovac), the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) and Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).

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The hub will allow for greater and more diversified vaccines manufacturing capability which will strengthen African regional health security to respond more equitably to the current COVID-19 pandemic and future pandemics. 

The signing of the letter of intent is due to WHO’s an announcement in June of the first COVID mRNA vaccine technology transfer hub in South Africa.

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The Chief Scientist of the World Health Organization, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan stated that building vaccine manufacturing capacity in South Africa is the first step in a broader effort to boost local production to address health emergencies and strengthen regional health security.

“Inequitable manufacturing and distribution of vaccines are behind the wave of death, which is now sweeping across many low- and middle-income countries that have been starved of vaccine supply,” he said.

What does this collaboration means?

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The collaboration will boost the production of the COVID-19 vaccine which will be of great help since the coming of the third wave.

The letter of intent sets out the terms of the collaboration and responsibilities between the organisations.

Through a shared responsibility approach, the organisations will ensure that the most suitable platform technologies are selected for the development of COVID-19 vaccines, that technology transfer is in place and that funding is secured for the hub, clinical studies and manufacturing support.

It would also create a platform for innovation in vaccines and ensure that the platform is sustainable, inclusive, and will lead to vaccine security for Africa in the future.  

The new collaboration brings together key actors from COVAX partners, industry, government, academia, funding agencies, WHO AFRO and the Africa CDC.

It will provide an enabling environment for the development of the first regional mRNA vaccine manufacturing production facility in Africa.

What Each Partner would do in the Consortium

The Medicines Patent Pool says that it would offer its intellectual property expertise and experience.

The Executive Director of Medicines Patent Pool, Charles Gore said, “Within the consortium, MPP will provide appropriate intellectual property analysis, define and negotiate terms and conditions of the agreements, provide alliance management and make use of our established robust selection process to allow further technology recipients to benefit.”

Read Also: U.S. President – Offer $100 Incentive To Encourage Americans To Get Vaccinated Against Coronavirus

For Afrigen, it will focus on ensuring the technical, scientific, quality control and quality assurance and regulatory teams in implementing the mRNA Hub for Africa.

The Managing Director of Afrigen, Professor Petro Terblanche said, “We have recently completed a facility suitable for the establishment of a fully integrated mRNA pilot-scale production, formulation and fill-finish platform. Our platform and facilities are well-positioned to deliver on the hub’s objectives.”

Biovac would assemble state of an art manufacturing capacity and help ensure the transfer of mRNA technology and know-how.

The South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) would facilitate product and clinical development, allow maximum participation of African countries in developing and testing context-appropriate products.

The Executive Director Grants, Innovation and Product Development (GIPD) of the SAMRC, Dr Michelle Mulder said the Council will bring in decades of experience in managing large research consortia and local and international funding programs, in both the research and innovation domains. 

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