May 18, 2022

WHO and South Africa partner on COVID-19 and mass production of HIV vaccines

The World Health Organization and South Africa have joined forces to accelerate the mass production of vaccines capable of fighting COVID-19, alongside its new variants, and also of curing the virus. human immunodeficiency.

According to a statement on the WHO’s website titled “Advances from South Africa’s mRNA center are foundation for self-reliance,” on Friday, mass production of vaccines would be achieved through the global mRNA center. WHO mRNA vaccine technology transfer that would be built in South Africa. Africa.

This was revealed when WHO Director General Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus and South African cabinet members visited a number of public and private sector partners who are working together to develop and build the global center for transfer of WHO mRNA vaccine technology to the country on Friday.

They argued that this decision had become imperative to close the huge disparities in access to the COVID-19 vaccine, leaving billions of people – especially in low- and middle-income countries – without protection against serious illnesses and diseases. deaths from COVID-19 in 2021.

According to them, the low levels of vaccination coverage also provided the ideal conditions for the development of new variants.

Speaking at the meeting, Dr Blade Nzimande, South Africa’s Minister for Higher Education, Science and Technology, said the pandemic has demonstrated the importance of investing in science and technology for the innovations.

“Covid-19 has demonstrated the importance of investing in science, technology and innovation. Therefore, preparedness for future pandemics is essential and the WHO Global mRNA Hub is therefore a vital part of ensuring that South Africa and the whole continent has the essential production capacity for a equitable deployment of vaccines.

“mRNA technology is not just for COVID-19, we hope it can be adapted to help us in the fight against HIV, TB and Malaria, which is why we are investing heavily, in alongside international partners, in this initiative.”

For his part, the country’s Minister of Health, Dr. Joe Phaahla, said the central goal is to develop a training center where mRNA technology is scaled up to the scale required for mass production. vaccines for multiple recipients in low- and middle-income countries. .

“We are not off the hook yet and we will likely be hit by new variants of COVID-19 and a fifth wave that coincides with our winter season, which would worsen our flu and cold season. However, we can reduce the impact by ensuring that most people are vaccinated, especially the most vulnerable groups.

“The new hub is not just for South Africa, it provides a one-stop-shop for low- and middle-income countries around the world to benefit from the transferred technology, as well as the know-how, so that they can also produce mRNA vaccines, which is critical if we are to end vaccine inequity.

In his contribution, the WHO Director-General said: “The pandemic has highlighted the need to increase local production of vaccines around the world, especially in low- and middle-income countries.

“The WHO Global mRNA Hub is a major step in this direction, sharing technology and building on the capacity and scientific expertise that already exists in South Africa.”

Furthermore, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director, Regional Office for Africa, said, “The mRNA centers offer an unprecedented opportunity for capacity development, setting Africa on the path to ‘autonomy.

“This initiative will enable the continent to better protect itself against epidemics, control the COVID-19 pandemic and develop new vaccines, accelerating the elimination of deadly diseases such as HIV, malaria and tuberculosis. We open the door to better health and well-being for our people.

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