In the latest move to enhance vaccine production in the continent, the World Health Organization (WHO) has announced the first six African countries to get the technology needed to create mRNA vaccines.
On Friday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, and Tunisia have been chosen to increase vaccine manufacturing on the continent.
“No other occurrence like the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated how relying on a few firms to offer global public goods is limited and harmful,” Tedros said during a ceremony co-hosted by the European Council, France, South Africa, and the World Health Organization.
“The greatest strategy to manage health emergencies and achieve universal health coverage in the mid-to-long term is to dramatically improve all areas’ capacity to produce the health products they require, with fair access as their primary endpoint,” he added.
The global mRNA technology transfer hub, which was established in 2021, was created to ensure that low- and middle-income nations have all of the necessary operating procedures and know-how to produce their own vaccines at scale and to international standards.
Africa, which has a population of 1.3 billion people, has been struggling to secure enough vaccines while wealthier countries have received the majority of the world’s supplies.
The WHO stated that it will collaborate with the first six countries to build a training and support roadmap so that they could begin producing vaccines as soon as feasible. In March, the training will begin.
The South African hub is currently scaling up to commercial size after generating mRNA vaccines at a laboratory scale.
“This is a program that would allow us to develop our own vaccines, and that is really essential to us,” said South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Adding, “It entails mutual respect, acknowledgement of what we can all bring to the table, investments in our economies and infrastructure, and, in many ways, giving back to the continent.”