The World Health Organisation (WHO) has listed Nigeria as one of the first countries to receive the technology needed to produce mRNA vaccines on the African continent.
This was disclosed in a press statement issued by WHO on Friday, February 18, 2022.
TheFact Nigeria gathered that WHO’s listing of the country to begin vaccine production was an evidence that the government was “walking the talk” with regards its goal to commence local vaccine production.
According to the statement, the global mRNA technology transfer hub was established in 2021 to support manufacturers in low- and middle-income countries to produce their own vaccines, ensuring that they have all the necessary operating procedures and know-how to manufacture mRNA vaccines at scale and according to international standards.
It added that, though the hub was primarily set up to address the COVID-19 emergency, it has the potential to expand manufacturing capacity for other products as well, putting countries in the driver’s seat when it came to the kinds of vaccines and other products they need to address their health priorities.
It also said, depending on the infrastructure, workforce and clinical research and regulatory capacity in place, WHO and its partners would work with the beneficiary countries to develop a roadmap and put in place the necessary training and support so that they can start producing vaccines as soon as possible.
Commending the development, WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus noted:
“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.
“In the mid- to long-term, 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, with equitable access as their primary endpoint”, he said.
Similarly, President Ursula von der Leyen, European Commission said:
“I am very glad to see this ambitious project move forward. 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, with the support of Team Europe”, he explained.
WHO disclosed that its initial effort is centred on mRNA technologies and biologicals, which are important for vaccine manufacturing and can also be used for other products, such as insulin to treat diabetes, cancer medicines and, potentially, vaccines for other priority diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis and HIV.
The ultimate goal, it said was to extend capacity building for national and regional production to all health technologies.
The WHO mRNA technology transfer hub is part of a larger effort aimed at empowering low- and middle-income countries to produce their own vaccines, medicines and diagnostics to address health emergencies and reach universal health coverage.
Five other African countries; Egypt, Kenya, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia were also selected as recipients alongside Nigeria.