Saturday, October 1 2022

An international organization, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), has called on the giants of COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing to share their technology with African countries.

The lack of vaccine production capacity in African countries has exposed the continent’s vulnerability and slowed vaccine deployment. The United States has donated more than 50 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to African countries, with the continent producing only 1% of the vaccines administered.

Egypt is currently the only country in Africa to produce the vaccine, although South Africa and Algeria have announced plans to do the same.

Confidentiality concerns

MSF, also known as “Médecins sans frontières”, has expressed concerns about the secrecy behind the production of the vaccine. He pointed out that African countries can produce these vaccines much faster, but pharmaceutical companies are not giving Africa the ability to license and produce them.

Alain Alsalhani, vaccine expert for the MSF access to medicines campaign, expressed his fears.

“We think Pfizer and Moderna are unwilling to do this because they want to keep control of the technology,” Alsalhani said.

He continued, “Moderna and BioNTech are entering into bilateral deals, building their own facilities, which takes longer. “

Dr Nicaise Ndembi, Africa CDC Chief Scientific Advisor, raised concerns.

“We have seen from the African Union that 99% of vaccines on the continent are produced locally and only 1% use local materials. This figure gives us an idea of ​​the absence of the vaccine manufacturing ecosystem. “

Vaccine technology

Alsalhani says MSF urged Moderna and Pfizer to share their mRNA vaccine technology and expertise with a hub in South Africa that is run by the World Health Organization (WHO).

“Ravi in ​​Spain is a manufacturer that has never produced vaccines before. Their activity is based on truly injectable drugs, ”he said.

He added, “So we saw them integrate the technology into an existing facility. They will start producing the first batches of the drug just six months after signing the agreement with Moderna.

Morocco is progressing

Morocco recently started producing vaccines against the virus through Sothema, a manufacturing company that produces the sinopharm jab. The company initially produced 5,000 doses but gradually increased its batches to 15,000 per month. To date, the manufacturing company is estimated at 5 million doses per month after signing an agreement in July for mass production.

Mehdi Zaghloul, executive director of Sothema, wanted other countries to follow suit.

“Some of the batches have been tested at the Moroccan Ministry of Health for analyzes and the first batches will be released in Morocco and other countries by December,” she explained. “I think Sothema gives us a model of how to do this. What is important is that they built on the existing capacity and redirected that capacity. “

She added: “We are looking for formulations that will give us a more stable vaccine. “

Ndembi said it is important for African countries to have sustainable vaccine factories and urged leaders to come up with a strategic plan.

“We need to sit down with African leaders to discuss a way forward. We need to establish regulatory bodies over vaccine production in order to have vaccine companies that we can fund, ”he said. – Health-e News

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