A South African biotech business has partnered with a Belgian company to develop an African Covid-19 vaccine one year after the mRNA Vaccine Technology Transfer Hub was established.
As part of a larger initiative to lessen the continent’s reliance on other areas for vaccines, South Africa’s Afrigen Biologics and Belgium’s Univercells will create the first African-owned Covid-19 injection.
Afrigen, a Cape Town-based company, stated during the agreement signing on Tuesday that it is attempting to make it easier for more than 15 manufacturing facilities in low- and middle-income countries throughout the world to produce mRNA vaccines.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated the urgent need to strengthen African capacities in vaccine research and production. Too many nations haven’t had access to vaccines because they lack the ability to produce them, according to Petro Terblanche, managing director of Afrigen.
With manufacturing concentrated in just a few nations, Africa, which imports roughly 99 percent of the vaccines it requires, lagged substantially behind more affluent countries in terms of obtaining vaccines during the pandemic.
The partners stated that they will work to create vaccines that are easier to make, store, and distribute in rural and distant areas where vaccination rates are low.
Problems arise because several of the currently available mRNA vaccines need to be kept in extremely cold storage to maintain their effectiveness.
The team is working on an mRNA vaccination that can be distributed to rural areas without the need for specialized equipment and can be stored in standard refrigerators.
Additionally, it will collaborate with eTheRNA, a tech business with knowledge of the difficulties associated with cold storage and immunizations.
The African continent fell short of the WHO’s (World Health Organization) goal of having 40% of its population immunized in December.
The uptake of the Covid-19 vaccination on the continent increased by 15% between January and February, according to WHO. However, as of March, 15 nations still had not fully immunized 10% of their populations, while 21 nations had only immunized 10% to 19% of their citizens.
Only the island nations of Seychelles and Mauritius have immunization rates above 70%.
Only 13 African countries have attained the 40 percent goal more than two years following the outbreak.
Through the vaccination alliance Gavi, Unicef provides vaccine supplies to the majority of African nations.
17.6% of the 1.4 billion people living on the continent have received all recommended vaccinations, according to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).
Over 823 million immunizations have already been administered throughout the continent. A total of 593 million of these have been handled, or 72%.
Over 35 million vaccinations have been administered in Kenya, and 31.5% of the adult population has received all recommended vaccinations.
Despite the fact that fewer than 15,000 immunization doses are administered daily, the Africa CDC estimates that over 12 million vaccines have not been used.
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