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World Health Organisation (WHO) hosts Conference on Vaccine Biomanufacturing Technology in South Africa

WHO conference on the expansion of local pharmaceutical manufacturing

Article by: Ntando Mncube

The World Health Organisation is today hosting a conference on the establishment of a global bio manufacturing training hub that will provide countries working with the mRNA Vaccine technology hub with the broader workforce training to turn novel technologies into large scale manufactured doses of Vaccines & other products

South Africa is amongst the 5 African countries identified as partners in the program, which focuses on the support of local development and manufacturing of the mRNA Vaccine.

Addressing and leading the conference is Ethiopian public health researcher, and Director-General of the World Health Organization Dr.Tedros, who opened the conference with the following remarks:

“Of course, this whole process would be accelerated if manufacturers were willing to share their intellectual property and know-how with the hub”- said Dr Tedros

“We need to pull out all the stops to achieve the 70% vaccine coverage target by the middle of this year, as well as the minimum targets for testing, treatments and personal protective equipment coverage” said Tedros.

At the opening of the “Ports to Arms” conference Director general Dr Tedros opened his speech by acknowledging the passing of his dear friend and colleague Paul Farmer who has recently passed on.

Tedros went on to acknowledge the milestone embraced in this week, as it marked 1 year of the availability of the Covax vaccine in African countries, which made its first delivery in Ghana.

“Unfortunately, vaccine nationalism and manufacturers prioritizing high-income countries severely limited the number of vaccines COVAX was able to supply in the first half of last year. – Dr Tedros

As a result, 83% of the population of Africa is yet to receive a single dose”.

This is not only a moral failure, it is also an epidemiological failure, which is creating the ideal conditions for new variants to emerge. – Dr Tedros

Through COVAX, we are now overcoming many of the supply and delivery constraints we faced last year, with almost 1.2 billion doses of vaccine delivered, and the supply outlook for this year is positive – said Dr Tedros

During his speech Tedros went to to express the stringent steps taken in the effort to aid vaccine inequality by facilitating the voluntary sharing of vaccine technology, through the new mRNA Technology Transfer Hub based in South Africa, which has already developed its own mRNA vaccine candidate.

We have also taken steps to facilitate voluntary sharing of technology, intellectual property, know-how and data, including the COVID-19 Technology Access Pool, or C-TAP, and the mRNA Technology Transfer Hub in South Africa, which has already developed its own mRNA vaccine candidate – Dr Tedros

WHO has now identified 20 countries that have expressed interest in mRNA vaccine development training by the South African hub. 

Later today, we will also be announcing the establishment of a global biomanufacturing training hub. This second hub will provide countries working with the mRNA vaccine technology hub with the broader workforce training to turn novel technologies into large scale manufactured doses of vaccine and other products.

Of course, this whole process would be accelerated if manufacturers were willing to share their intellectual property and know-how with the hub.

We strongly support the proposal from South Africa and India for a temporary waiver of intellectual property rights under the TRIPS agreement for the duration of the pandemic. 

The flexibilities in the TRIPS agreement are there to be used in emergencies. If not now, then when?

We need to pull out all the stops to achieve the 70% vaccine coverage target by the middle of this year, as well as the minimum targets for testing, treatments and PPE coverage. 

Achieving the 70% target in all countries is essential for ending the pandemic as a global health emergency and driving a truly inclusive global recovery. 

It will also help prevent the emergence of new variants, which could be more severe or transmissible next time around.

Read the full statement below:

https://www.who.int/director-general/speeches/detail/who-director-general-s-remarks-at-ports-to-arms-23-february-2022

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