The World Health Organization (WHO) says it is planning a technology transfer hub for producing mRNA coronavirus vaccines in South Africa.
According to WHO chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the move aims to boost vaccine access across the African continent, where cases and deaths increased by almost 40% over the past week,
Tedros disclosed during a press conference that the WHO is in discussions with a consortium of companies and institutions to establish a technology transfer hub in South Africa.
The consortium involves Afrigen Biologics & Vaccines, a company which will act as hub both by manufacturing mRNA vaccines itself & by providing training to manufacturer, Biovac.
WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan said South Africa could start manufacturing the shot in nine to 12 months.
Swaminathan said for now mainly smaller companies and biotechs will be involved, but the WHO is also “in discussions with larger mRNA companies and hope very they will come on board.”
The main producers of COVID-19 vaccines using mRNA technology are BioNTech-Pfizer and Moderna.