× Digital News Videos Health & Science Opinion Education Columnists Lifestyle Cartoons Moi Cabinets Kibaki Cabinets Arts & Culture Podcasts E-Paper Tributes Lifestyle & Entertainment Nairobian Entertainment Eve Woman TV Stations KTN Home KTN News BTV KTN Farmers TV Radio Stations Radio Maisha Spice FM Vybez Radio Enterprise VAS E-Learning Digger Classified Jobs Games Crosswords Sudoku The Standard Group Corporate Contact Us Rate Card Vacancies DCX O.M Portal Corporate Email RMS
Watch The Tokyo Olympics 2020 live online

WHO setting up hub to make COVID-19 vaccines in South Africa

By Reuters | June 22nd 2021

World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. [Reuters]

The WHO is setting up a hub in South Africa to give companies from poor and middle-income countries the know-how and licenses to produce COVID-19 vaccines, in what President Cyril Ramaphosa called a historic step to spread lifesaving technology.

The "tech transfer hub" could make it possible for African companies to begin manufacturing mRNA vaccines - the advanced technology now used in shots from Pfizer and Moderna - in as little as 9-12 months, the World Health Organization said.

It announced two companies had signed up so far, and said it was in talks with Pfizer and Moderna about participating.

"Through this initiative we will change the narrative of an Africa that is a centre of disease and poor development," said Ramaphosa, speaking by video link at the WHO press conference where the programme was launched.

The WHO has long been calling for rich countries to share vaccine technology. The initiative to help African countries produce vaccines is especially urgent at a time when cases and deaths on the continent have increased by almost 40% over the past week.

"Today I am delighted to announce that WHO is in discussions with a consortium of companies and institutions to establish a technology transfer hub in South Africa," WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference.

In a statement, the WHO described the hub as a training facility, "where the technology is established at industrial scale and clinical development performed. Interested manufacturers from low- and middle-income countries can receive training and any necessary licenses to the technology."

The two South African companies participating so far were Afrigen Biologics, described as a development company, and Biovac, described as a manufacturer.

WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan said the WHO was in negotiations with Pfizer(PFE.N)and Moderna , which have both produced vaccines widely used in rich countries using new mRNA technology, which sends instructions into the body to make proteins that trigger an immune response.

"We could even expect to see within 9 to 12 months vaccines being produced in Africa, in South Africa," Swaminathan said.

Ramaphosa said the development was "historic", but South Africa was also still pushing separately for a waiver to intellectual property rules governing COVID-19 vaccines.

Share this story
Argentina qualify for Copa quarters with win over Paraguay
Argentina ensured their place in the quarter-finals of the Copa America on Monday when they beat Paraguay 1-0 in a game notable for Lionel Messi's rec
Copa America: Vidal own goal breaks Uruguay drought in 1-1 draw with Chile
An own goal from Chile's Arturo Vidal midway through the second half gave Uruguay their first goal in five games and granted them a point in a grippin