New consortium working to boost vaccine production in South Africa

Aug. 2, 2021

The Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) and the World Health Organization (WHO), Afrigen Biologics (PTY) Limited, the Biologicals and Vaccines Institute of Southern Africa  (Biovac), the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) and Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) have signed a letter of intent to address the global imbalance of manufacturing capacity for COVID-19 vaccines.

This letter of intent brings together partners to establish the South African mRNA technology transfer hub that will allow for greater and more diversified vaccines manufacturing capability, strengthen African regional health security and respond more equitably to the current COVID-19 pandemic and future pandemics.

Further to WHO's announcement in June of the first COVID mRNA vaccine technology transfer hub in South Africa, this letter of intent sets out the terms of the collaboration and responsibilities between our organizations. Through a shared responsibility approach, the organizations will ensure the most suitable platform technologies are selected for the development of COVID-19 vaccines, that technology transfer is in place and that funding is secured for the hub, clinical studies and manufacturing support. It will also ensure that, crucially, this platform for innovation in vaccines is sustainable, inclusive and will lead to vaccine security for Africa in the future.  

“Inequitable manufacturing and distribution of vaccines is behind the wave of death, which is now sweeping across many low- and middle-income countries that have been starved of vaccine supply,” said Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, Chief Scientist of the World Health Organization. “Building vaccine manufacturing capacity in South Africa is the first step in a broader effort to boost local production to address health emergencies and strengthen regional health security.”

The new collaboration brings together key actors from COVAX partners, industry, government, academia, funding agencies, WHO AFRO, which was represented by Regional Director Dr. Matshidiso Moeti and the Africa CDC to collectively provide an enabling environment for the development of the first regional mRNA vaccine manufacturing production facility in Africa.

WHO release

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