SOUTH AFRICA – South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa met and had talks with World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus on the mRNA vaccine technology transfer hub and ongoing vaccination initiatives.

The vaccination initiatives include the mRNA Hub at Afrigen, genomic sequencing at the Biomedical Research Institute as well as the fill and finish facility at Biovac.

South African companies, Afrigen Biologics and Biovac Institute, have partnered to develop and manufacture mRNA vaccines with guidance from WHO among other organizations.

WHO launched a technology transfer hub based in South Africa in June 2021 that uses publicly available information to recreate Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine and develop a comparable vaccine.

Dr Ghebreyesus accompanied by the Belgian Minister of Development Cooperation Ms Meryame Kitir are on a two-day visit to various vaccine-related sites around Cape Town.

The delegation is hosted by the Department of Science and Innovation, the Department of Health among other partners to address Africa’s self-sufficiency in the COVID-19 vaccine production and related treatments.

The visit is an opportunity to profile the depth of technological capacity on the African continent along with the integrity with which intellectual property is being leveraged to enable vaccine production in Africa,” remarked President Ramaphosa.

It also serves to showcase South Africa’s capacity and infrastructure in the development of vaccines for current as well as potentially new strains of COVID-19.

Consequently, the visit will highlight how manufacturing in South Africa is a critical contribution to the continent’s response to COVID-19.

Dr Tedros paid a visit to President Ramaphosa at the President’s official residence at Genadendal to engage with the President in his capacity at the African Union COVID-19 Champion.

I applaud South Africa’s commitment to vaccine equity at the global level and securing vaccines for Africa as the continent with the least access to this form of protection,” the Dr Tedros praised President Ramaphosa.

In recent developments, President Cyril Ramaphosa launched a new vaccine manufacturing facility that will boost the country’s capacity to make its own inoculations for diseases including COVID-19.

It is a game-changer in Africa’s bid to overcome the unequal distribution of Covid-19 vaccines globally.

Africa is responding to COVID-19 with a “depth of scientific knowledge, expertise and capacity,” to make its own vaccines,” observed the President.

The pandemic has revealed the huge disparities that exist within and between countries in access to quality healthcare, medicines, diagnostics and vaccines.

Africa having its own manufacturing facilities will be key to the continent’s self-sufficiency and readdress Africa’s reliance on the West for vaccines.

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