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Six African nations to get mRNA vaccine technology

Six African nations to get mRNA vaccine technology

Baku, January 19, AZRETAC

Six African countries will be the first on the continent to receive the technology needed to produce mRNA (messenger ribonucleic acid) vaccines, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday, according to Xinhua.

Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia will be part of a project that aims to enable low- and middle-income countries to manufacture mRNA vaccines in line with international standards. The project is also intended to reduce Africa's reliance on vaccine manufacturers outside the continent.

"It's incredible to think that just over two years since COVID-19 began spreading, there are now multiple safe and effective vaccines against it, and more than ten billion doses have been administered globally. The tragedy, of course, is that billions of people are yet to benefit from these life-saving tools," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus commented on Twitter.

He noted that "more than 80 percent of the population of Africa is yet to receive a single dose," while 116 countries are off the WHO target of vaccinating 70 percent of the population of every country by the middle of 2022.

"One of the most obvious lessons of the pandemic is the urgent need to increase local production of vaccines, especially in low and middle-income countries," he said.

Primarily set up to address the COVID-19 pandemic, Tedros explained that the global mRNA technology transfer hub, established in 2021, had the potential to expand manufacturing capacity for other vaccines and products, such as insulin to treat diabetes, cancer medicines and, potentially, vaccines for diseases, such as malaria, tuberculosis and HIV (human immunodeficiency virus).

"The hub will be not just for South Africa, it's for Africa and the whole world, because the spokes will be distributed all over the world," he said, explaining how it was already producing results with the manufacturing of an mRNA vaccine based on publicly available information about the composition of an existing vaccine.

"We expect clinical trials to start in the fourth quarter of this year, with approval expected in 2024, but this process can be sped up, (and) there are other options that the hub is exploring," he told a press conference in Brussels, where the European Union-African Union (EU-AU) summit was held.

European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen added: "We have been talking a lot about producing mRNA vaccines in Africa. But this goes even beyond. This is mRNA technology designed in Africa, led by Africa and owned by Africa, with the support of Team Europe."

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