South Africa’s Afrigen COVID Vaccine: A Game Changer For The Continent?
Since the beginning of the pandemic, several African countries have been calling for a patent waiver on COVID-19 vaccines. So far, without a result. Now an mRNA hub for Africa - the first of its kind - is being set up in Cape Town. It aims to copy the Moderna vaccine. DW correspondent Adrian Kriesch reports. It’s a first for the continent. An inconspicuous building in an industrial area of Cape Town is the base for Africa’s only vaccine technology hub. With vaccines in short supply in Africa, the WHO and COVAX initiative led the drive to set up a local technology-sharing platform. Afrigen is the company tasked with developing and producing mRNA vaccines. These are the relatively new but highly effective vaccines that so far only two major companies have commercialized: Biontech and Moderna. Afrigen was counting on a cooperation with Moderna. One of their key partners is in Johannesburg: the Antiviral Gene Therapy Research Unit at Witwatersrand University. They have been working on mRNA technology since 2015, as one of the only research units on the continent. They are now sharing their skills and knowledge with Afrigen. Back in Cape Town, Pietro Terreblanche is still hoping Moderna comes on board – as this would speed up the process. Moderna has announced a patent waiver while the pandemic is still ongoing – but afterwards no commercialization will be possible without its approval. Today, most vaccines used on the continent are imported. Afrigen and its partners aim to bring the first home-grown products to market within three years.
Source: DW News
Country: South Africa