Geneva, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News – June 22, 2021): South Africa will host the continent’s first Covid-19 vaccine production facility, as President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday, Africa has now understood that the doses “would never come” to save lives.
Ramaphosa has joined with the World Health Organization (WHO) and French President Emmanuel Macron in announcing the new hub for messenger RNA coronavirus vaccine technology.
But since the project will take a long time to start, no vaccine is expected until next year.
In technology transfer centers, the technology is established on an industrial scale, while interested manufacturers can receive training and all necessary licenses for the technology.
“The ability to manufacture vaccines, drugs and other health products will help put Africa on the path to self-determination,” Ramaphosa told a WHO virtual press conference via a link video.
“It has been shown now that we simply cannot continue to rely on vaccines made outside Africa because they never come. They never arrive on time and people keep dying.” The center is seen by the Geneva-based WHO as a way to tackle the vast inequality in access to vaccines between the world’s richest and poorest nations.
WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan said it could be nine to 12 months before Covid-19 vaccines can be produced in South Africa using tested and approved processes.
As part of the technology transfer hub system, WHO and its partners provide the production know-how, quality control and licenses necessary to enable rapid deployment.
At the South African hub, the biopharmaceutical company Biovac will act as developer; the biotechnology firm Afrigen will be the manufacturer; and a consortium of universities will provide the scientific know-how.
Messenger RNA genetic technology – as used in the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna coronavirus injections – causes the body to reproduce advanced proteins similar to those found on the coronavirus. When exposed to the real virus later, the body recognizes the spike proteins and is able to fight them off.
WHO said it would “continue to assess potential donors of mRNA technology and make subsequent calls for other technologies, such as viral vectors and proteins, in the coming months.”
– “Big day for Africa” - During a visit to South Africa last month, Macron said he was pushing for faster technology transfer to allow poorer countries to start manufacturing their own Covid-19 jabs.
It was a “big day for Africa,” Macron said.
“Each continent must be able to develop and produce its own vaccines, its own drugs,” he added.
“The action for global public goods is the fight that this century must wage and the fight that cannot wait. South Africa accounts for more than 35% of the total Covid-19 cases recorded in Africa and is currently suffering from a third wave of infections.
South Africa, along with India, has been pushing for a temporary waiver of intellectual property rights to vaccines to speed up production.
More than 2.6 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines have been injected in at least 216 territories around the world, according to an AFP count.
In the highest-income countries, which represent 16 percent of the world’s population, 74 doses were injected per 100 inhabitants.
This figure rises to only three doses per 100 people in Africa.