As people are increasingly worried about the lack of equal access to vaccines during the pandemic, plans are being made to start producing coronavirus vaccines in Africa.
The World Health Organization (WHO) announced today that it will open its first mRNA vaccine production center in South Africa with the help of a consortium. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa praised the plan as an important step towards reducing dependence on imported vaccines in Africa.
“They will never come. They will never arrive on time,” he said. He said the site will also train the skilled workers needed to produce vaccines.
French President Emmanuel Macron said: “This initiative is the first of many that we will support.”
WHO chief Tan Desai said: “This is good news, especially for Africa, where access to vaccines is the weakest.”
WHO expert Soumya Swaminathan said that if everything goes according to plan, the center can produce the first batch of vaccines within 9 to 12 months. The WHO announced that more details need to be reached on technology transfer and cooperation.
Countries discussed the abolition of vaccine patents, which was specifically advocated by South Africa and India in the World Trade Organization (WTO). Tedros said that the number of new cases in parts of Africa has tripled or even quadrupled in a few weeks, partly because of the extremely low vaccination coverage.