Atech transfer hub in South Africa established in June aims to replicate, with the aid of Moderna, the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, according to a senior official with the World Health Organization. Moderna said in October 2020 that it would not enforce patents on its vaccine during the pandemic, but talks between the tech transfer hub and Moderna about disclosing the formula and the manufacturing process have yet to make significant progress. Regardless of whether the hub can rely on Moderna for assistance, the hub must still undertake requisite clinical trials, meaning it would not be able to distribute vaccines until the second half of 2022.
This new effort will supplement South Africa’s current production of mRNA vaccines. In July, Pfizer-BioNTech reached an agreement with South African pharmaceutical company Biovac to produce 100 million doses a year. However, the deal does not impart knowledge of the formula behind the vaccine, as the agreement is only to “fill and finish,” meaning Biovac will put the solution into vials and package them for shipping.
Expanded vaccine production is an urgent issue around the world, and Africa is no exception: According to the Africa CDC, only 3.3 percent of the continent is currently vaccinated against COVID-19 due to challenges in access, cost, and logistics, among other difficulties.
For more on Africa’s efforts to spur vaccine production and access, read, “Africa must produce its own vaccines.” Also consider listening to the Honorable Dr. Michel Sidibé, African special envoy for the African Medicines Agency of the African Union and Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, vice-chancellor of the University of Global Health Equity, share their thoughts on addressing vaccine inequity at the recent AGI event, “Accelerating COVID-19 vaccinations in Africa.”
Originally Published by BROOKINGS