Strengthening the fight against COVID-19 in Africa through the transfer of vaccine technology

[كمبالا] The World Health Organization has announced that six African countries will receive technology that will enable them to produce Covid-19 vaccines, in an effort to reduce dependence on producers outside the continent.

According to the organization, Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia will receive messenger RNA vaccine technology, along with the knowledge needed to manufacture the vaccines and support the training of scientists.

This approach is part of a global initiative to help low- and middle-income countries gain access to the technology needed to mass-produce mRNA vaccines according to international standards to stem the COVID-19 pandemic.

The messenger RNA vaccines, which Pfizer Biotech and Moderna use in their doses, instruct cells to produce a protein that leads to an immune response to fight viruses when they enter the body, and these two companies have so far had the most of their doses to rich countries, and none of them have borrowed Low-income countries are interested.

This corporate behavior was denounced and warned by the WHO’s Director General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, during a party held on Friday (February 18) by the European Council, France, South Africa and the World Health Organization during the EU AU summit in Brussels.

“No other event such as the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that it is restrictive and dangerous to rely on a few companies to supply global public goods,” Ghebreyesus said.

The announcement was then greeted with an enthusiastic standing ovation in Africa, where only about 12% of the population was fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data from the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, whose director, John Nkengasong, said has. : “I am very happy to see this progress. .

“The way we fight the next epidemic will be completely different,” Nikengasong said. Because the continent will then be a producer of vaccines and diagnostics. ”

This development follows the establishment of the mRNA Vaccine Technology Transfer Center, which is managed by a WHO complex in South Africa, which will share technical knowledge with vaccine manufacturers in the six countries.

Tedros said the WHO and its partners would train and help build the necessary workforce across the value chain, with a training center to be announced in the coming weeks.

Enabling Africa to make its own vaccines, said South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, means “mutual respect and recognition of what we can all give to the situation, investment in our economies, investment in infrastructure and, on many ways, to give credit to the continent. . ”

He added: “Organizations such as the Kovacs facility must [مبادرة إتاحة لقاحات كوفيد-19 بإنصاف] and dry [تحالف اللقاحات] Commit to buying vaccines from our local manufacturers, they must buy them at locally manufactured hubs as soon as they start working. ”

Ramaphosa also called on European countries to agree to relinquish intellectual property rights to Covid Technology, which has been ahead of the World Trade Organization for more than a year.

He added: “Governments are really serious about ensuring this. [شعوب] The world of vaccines should reaffirm our agreement to relinquish trade-related intellectual property rights as we have advocated. ”

Eventually, the center for the transmission of messenger RNA technology will support universal access to vaccines, strengthen health security and promote independence in the future, according to the World Health Organization, which says the technology can also be used for insulin to treat diabetes. and cancer drugs, and possibly vaccines for diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis and HIV.

In response to the World Health Declaration, MSF states: “Diversification of RNA vaccine manufacturing capacity in low- and middle-income countries should be a global health priority.”

“Increasing areas that produce mRNA vaccines as an essential preparedness against infectious diseases can improve the response not only to COVID-19 and future infectious diseases, but also to existing diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis and HIV.”

Therefore, the German biotechnology company Biotech announced on Wednesday (February 16) that it will create accessible technology for the production of mRNA vaccines in Rwanda and Senegal in 2022, with the process of filling the packages with the vaccine and packaging them for distribution. completed, in collaboration with Ghana.

Afrigin, which is part of a South African consortium affiliated with the World Health Organization, announced earlier this month that it has developed its own version of the mRNA vaccine, based on publicly available data on Moderna’s vaccine formulation, in order to to be tested. months.

However, securing and maintaining markets for African vaccine distribution is an issue, said Patrick Thibault, Executive Director of the Vaccine Manufacturing in Africa Initiative.

says Tibo to the network SciDev.Net“While access to technology is important in terms of written regulations and authorization to use it, Africa must be confident in securing and maintaining a market for its products.”

“I think without securing the market, it will not work,” Tebow explained. Because we need to know where we are going to sell, how we are going to sell and what is going to happen to the products. ”

This post was produced by SciDev.Net’s regional office south of the Sahara Africa.

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