Scientists in South Africa have produced a copy of the Moderna Covid vaccine, raising the prospect of more access to jabs in poorer parts of the world.
The vaccine candidate would be the first to be made based on a widely used vaccine without the assistance and approval of the developer. It is also the first mRNA vaccine designed, developed and produced at lab scale on the African continent.
Researchers in Cape Town, supported by the World Health Organization hope to begin human trials in November.
Scientists used publicly available information to produce the mRNA vaccine which uses fragments of the genetic code of the coronavirus.
Moderna had previously said that it would not enforce the patent on its vaccine, but stopped short of offering help to the South African project.
It’s hoped that locally produced Covid jabs could sharply increase vaccination rates across Africa, which are the lowest in the world.
During the pandemic, wealthy countries have hoovered up most of the world’s supplies of vaccines.
Biovac, a partly state-owned South African vaccine producer, will be the first recipient of the technology from the hub. Afrigen has also agreed to help train companies in Argentina and Brazil.
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