Search for African vaccine site to deepen

Health experts have said Rwanda, Senegal and South Africa could be candidates because they either have existing vaccine expertise and production.

14 October 2021 | Economics

GISELDA VAGNONI AND EMILY ROE

Rwanda, Senegal and South Africa could be potential locations for Moderna's planned vaccine factory in Africa, the US drugmaker's co-founder and chairman said as it steps up its search for a site on the continent.

Moderna said last week it would build a plant in Africa to produce up to 500 million doses of vaccines a year, including its COVID-19 shot, as pressure grows on pharmaceutical companies to manufacture drugs in lower-income countries.

Noubar Afeyan, a biochemical engineer of Armenian origin who co-founded Moderna in 2010, said in an interview with Reuters late on Monday that the selection process would likely intensify now it has announced its Africa plans.

Health experts have said Rwanda, Senegal and South Africa could be candidates because they either have existing vaccine expertise and production, or have expressed an interest in developing such an industry.

Asked by Reuters whether those three countries were on Moderna's list of potential candidates, Afeyan said: "I can confirm that, yes."

He declined to give further details about which countries Moderna has been talking to as the selection process is ongoing.

"We know several countries that already have good healthcare systems and quite a lot of interest in working on this, so we will find partners," he said.

South Africa has a medical research capacity and a domestic pharmaceutical industry, Senegal's Pasteur Institute produces yellow fever vaccines and Rwanda has expressed interest in making vaccines and drugs. Some countries in North Africa, such as Tunisia and Egypt, also have pharmaceutical industries.

BOOSTER DECISION

In August, German drugmaker BionTech said it was considering building malaria and tuberculosis vaccine production sites in Rwanda and Senegal.

Public health and government officials in Africa welcomed the news last week, but said the plant won't address the continent's urgent need for Covid-19 vaccines now.

Under 5% of Africans have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, the continent's top public health official, John Nkengasong, noted after Moderna's announcement.

Afeyan said the overall goal was to have a plant that could make multiple vaccines so that "in the future, if there is a pandemic, and there will certainly be, then we can very rapidly convert it and provide the vaccine security on the continent".

Afeyan's comments come as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reviews the booster dose of Moderna's vaccine for adults, as well as it’s shot for teenagers.

A panel of independent FDA advisers will meet on Thursday to discuss the booster dose. He said Moderna's request for emergency authorisation for its teen shot filed in June has not been delayed, but rather boosters were considered a more urgent issue at the moment.

"I think they are sequencing decisions and evaluations and they are considering the booster decision more urgent," he said.

PATENTS

Moderna's plans in Africa comes as debate rages between drugmakers and governments about waiving intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines to help end the pandemic and give more developing countries access to shots.

Politico reported last week that the US administration has urged Moderna to increase its vaccine production to boost donations to countries in need but the company is hesitating for fear it would be paid less for the shots it contributes.

"Our interests with the White House are common and that is to get as many ... vaccines as possible next year to low-income countries as we have this year. In that regard, we're similar," Afeyan said, when asked about the Politico report.

"I only know what the discussions with the White House have been, and I think they've been very constructive," he said.

Moderna said on Friday it aimed to deliver 1 billion doses of its Covid-19 vaccine to low-income countries in 2022, in addition to the doses it has already committed to the global vaccine-sharing programme COVAX.

These vaccines will be part of the 2 to 3 billion doses the company has forecast to produce next year.

Afeyan said the notion that Moderna was not ramping up production to meet the requirements of countries in need was inconsistent with simple arithmetic.

"OECD countries have a need for a billion doses. The only way the other two billion doses could be used is to be used in low- to middle-income countries," he said.

The focus now was on the mechanism for doing that, whether through COVAX or direct bilateral agreements, for example with the African Union or other constituencies. -Nampa/Reuters

Similar News

 

Africa calls for climate finance tracker

1 day - 22 October 2021 | Economics

ALESSANDRA PRENTICEAfrican countries want a new system to track funding from wealthy nations that are failing to meet a US$100-billion annual target to help the...

Kenya lifts curfew to boost the economy

1 day - 22 October 2021 | Economics

Kenya lifted a nationwide curfew on Wednesday that has been in place since March 2020 to curb the spread of the coronavirus, President Uhuru Kenyatta...

!Gawaxab concerned about weak credit uptake

2 days ago - 21 October 2021 | Economics

PHILLEPUS UUSIKUIt is expected that when interest rates are low, individuals and businesses will approach commercial banks to seek for credit in order to invest...

Ongos Valley, Telecom Namibia sign MoU

3 days ago - 20 October 2021 | Economics

PHILLEPUS UUSIKUOngos Valley Development signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Telecom Namibia (TN) last week to commemorate their journey towards developing a smart city.In...

Zim unvaccinated employees barred from work

3 days ago - 20 October 2021 | Economics

Zimbabwe bar unvaccinated government workers from reporting for duty as part of efforts to fight Covid-19, an official circular showed.The southern African country has, as...

South Africa not authorising Russian vaccine

3 days ago - 20 October 2021 | Economics

South Africa's drugs regulator said on Monday that it was not approving an emergency use application for Russia's Sputnik V Covid-19 shot for now, citing...

No hand brake for fuel prices

3 days ago - 20 October 2021 | Economics

Jo-Maré Duddy - Fuel prices, which have soared recently, are likely to remain high in the coming months but begin to retreat early next year.While...

No fear of inflation

3 days ago - 20 October 2021 | Economics

Global finance officials are worried about rising inflation pressures but there it is little fear that it will become a "runaway train," IMF chief Kristalina...

Hard choices loom for finance chiefs’ pledges

3 days ago - 20 October 2021 | Economics

Chris Stein - In speeches and communiques from top finance officials at the recent annual meetings of the IMF and World Bank, one word was...

Sticking points at COP26

3 days ago - 20 October 2021 | Economics

Nina Chestney - Representatives from nearly 200 countries will meet in Glasgow, Scotland, from Oct. 31-Nov. 12 for climate talks to strengthen action to tackle...

Latest News

Heimstädt steering road safety

1 day - 22 October 2021 | Business

Rivaldo KavangaHorst Heimstädt is the CEO of the Namibia Road Safety Forum, a private organisation which does extensive work in the Southern African Development Community...

FNB to strengthen its support...

1 day - 22 October 2021 | Business

PHILLEPUS UUSIKUProparco, a private sector financing arm of Agence Française de Développement Group (AFD Group), granted a EURIZ portfolio guarantee of N$ 68 million to...

Learners don maize sacks for...

1 day - 22 October 2021 | Education

TUYEIMO HAIDULA OSHAKATI Learners at Omuthiyagwiipundi Combined School in Omuthiya are forced to wear maize sacks each time they misbehave at...

Itula changed, says suspended Smith-Howard

1 day - 22 October 2021 | Politics

Staff Reporter WINDHOEKSuspended Independent Patriots for Change (IPC) Swakopmund constituency councillor Ciske Smith-Howard says her party leader, Dr Panduleni Itula, has become...

The face of the southern...

1 day - 22 October 2021 | People

Michelline Nawatises Victoria Ndemupa Muhuura was born in Wavis Bay. She attended at Andimba Toivo ya Toivo Secondary School in the Oshana Region, and...

Zozo’s Leather: Your dream product

1 day - 22 October 2021 | People

Rivaldo Kavanga Celesty Cupido worked in the tourism industry and realised over the years that many Namibian accommodation establishments do not showcase or sell...

Rising like a phoenix

1 day - 22 October 2021 | Business

Mariselle StofbergWilhelmine Mutorwa has used every opportunity she is given to become the best version of herself. For Wilhelmine Mutorwa, giving up has never been...

Africa calls for climate finance...

1 day - 22 October 2021 | Economics

ALESSANDRA PRENTICEAfrican countries want a new system to track funding from wealthy nations that are failing to meet a US$100-billion annual target to help the...

EDITORIAL: We are guilty of...

1 day - 22 October 2021 | Opinion

A lot needs to be discussed in our country – from race and sexual rights to abortion. The country can’t stop talking, even when such...

Load More