Half a dozen countries in Africa have been selected to be the first to receive the technology needed to produce mRNA vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 though a World Health Organization effort, the Guardian says.
According to the WHO, the global mRNA technology transfer hub was established in 2021 to provide middle- and low-income countries with the ability to produce mRNA vaccines for SARS-CoV-2 themselves, as well as other products. A consortium consisting of Afrigen Biologics, the South African Medical Research Council, and Biovac are running the hub and have produced an mRNA vaccine at laboratory scale and are ramping it up to commercial scale, it adds. Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, and Tunisia all applied for and were selected to be the first to receive the technology from the hub, the WHO says.
"This is an initiative that will allow us to make our own vaccines and that, to us, is very important. It means mutual respect, mutual recognition of what we can all bring to the party, investment in our economies, infrastructure investment and, in many ways, giving back to the continent," South African President Cyril Ramaphosa says in a statement.
The Guardian adds that the WHO announcement comes as vaccine developer BioNTech said it would be delivering shipping container-based manufacturing facilities to Africa. It notes that that approach while shortening the supply chain, has been criticized for not sharing technical knowledge.