Nigeria To Begin Production Of Covid Vaccines – WHO
Written by darling on February 18, 2022
Nigeria and five other African countries have been chosen to begin production of COVID-19 vaccines, with the continent having had limited access to jabs.
“Today I’m delighted to announce the first six African countries that will receive technology from the hub to produce their own mRNA vaccines: Egypt, Kenya Nigeria, Senegal South Africa, and Tunisia,” Director-General of the World Health Organisation, Tedros Ghebreyesus, announced on Friday.
According to the WHO, they were selected as the first recipients of technology from the organisation’s global mRNA vaccine hub, in a push to ensure the African continent can make its own jabs to fight COVID and other diseases.
“I was honoured to visit the Hub last week. And it’s already producing results, with Afrigen’s announcement that it has produced its own mRNA vaccine, based on publicly-available information about the composition of an existing vaccine,” Ghebreyesus said.
“We expect clinical trials to start in the 4th quarter of this year, with approval expected in 2024. We expect the benefits of this initiative will extend far beyond #COVID19, by creating a platform for vaccines against other diseases including malaria and tuberculosis”.
“WHO will work with the companies and the government in each country to develop a roadmap for training and production, based on their needs and capacities.
“Thank you all, and we look forward to working with all of you to make this project a success, for the healthier, safer and fairer Africa”.
“No other event like the Covid-19 pandemic has shown that reliance on a few companies to supply global public goods is limiting, and dangerous,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
“The best way to address health emergencies and reach universal health coverage is to significantly increase the capacity of all regions to manufacture the health products they need.”
Tedros has continually called for equitable access to vaccines in order to beat the pandemic, and rails against the way wealthy nations have hogged doses, leaving Africa lagging behind other continents in the global vaccination effort.
A ceremony marking the mRNA tech transfer announcement was to be held Friday in Brussels at the summit between the European Union and the African Union.
European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said: “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.”
Currently only one percent of the vaccines used in Africa are produced on the continent of some 1.3 billion people.
The WHO set up a global mRNA technology transfer hub in South Africa last year to support manufacturers in low- and middle-income countries to produce their own vaccines.
The global hub’s role is to ensure that manufacturers in those nations have the know-how to make mRNA vaccines at scale and according to international standards.
As used in the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines, mRNA technology provokes an immune response by delivering genetic molecules containing the code for key parts of a pathogen into human cells.
Primarily set up to address the Covid-19 pandemic, the global hub has 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.
The scheme’s ultimate goal is to spread capacity for national and regional production to all health technologies.
The WHO said it would work with the first six countries chosen to develop a roadmap of training and support so they can start producing vaccines as soon as possible. Training will begin in March.
The South African hub is already producing mRNA vaccines at laboratory scale and is currently scaling up towards commercial scale.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said Friday’s announcement “means mutual respect, mutual recognition of what we can all bring to the party, investment in our economies, infrastructure investment and, in many ways, giving back to the continent”.
French President Emmanuel Macron said supporting African health sovereignty was one of the key goals of starting up local production, “to empower regions and countries to fend for themselves, during crises, and in peace time”.
More than 10.4 billion Covid-19 vaccine doses have been administered around the world, with nearly 62 percent of the global population having received at least one shot.
However, just 11.3 per cent of Africans had been fully immunised by the start of February.
On Thursday, Nigeria recorded 45 new cases of the virus, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 254,182.
230,530 cases are, however, said to have recovered, while 3,141 deaths have been recorded in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.
The 45 new cases were reported from eight states – Lagos (18), Cross River (7), FCT (7), Oyo (5), Kano (3), Nasarawa (3), Ekiti (1) and Rivers (1).
Across the world, the vaccine continues to rage on.
Here are some of the latest developments on the impact of the virus: