WHO announces first Covid vaccine technology transfer hub

Article by Amanda Jasi

Aims to scale up production and access to mRNA vaccines

The World Health Organization (WHO) and its COVAX partners are working with a South African consortium to establish its first Covid mRNA vaccine technology transfer hub.

Technology transfer hubs are training facilities where technology can be established at an industrial scale and clinical development performed. In April, WHO put out a global call for expression of interest (EOI) to establish Covid mRNA vaccine technology transfer hubs to scale up production and access to vaccines.

The hubs will be able to transfer comprehensive technology transfer packages and provide training to interested low- and middle- income countries (LMICs). Interested manufacturers in LMICs can receive training and any necessary licences to the technology.

For this first hub, consortium partners Biovac and Afrigen Biologics and Vaccines will contribute complementary roles within the proposed collaboration. Afrigen, a biotechnology company, will act as a developer, and biopharmaceutical company Biovac will be the manufacturer.

Universities involved in the consortium will provide academic support through mRNA know-how, and the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will contribute technical and regional support. Africa CDC was established to support the public health initiatives of member states and strengthen the capacity of public health institutions to detect, prevent, control, and respond quickly and effectively to disease threats.

WHO and its partners will bring their know-how, quality control, and necessary licences into a single entity to facilitate broad and rapid technology transfer to multiple recipients. The hub will also benefit from UN-backed organisation Medicine’s Patent Pool’s vast experience of intellectual property (IP) management and issuing IP licences. Medicine’s Patent Pool (MPP) works to increase access to, and facilitate development of, life-saving medicines for LMICs.

This article is adapted from an earlier online version.

Article by Amanda Jasi

Staff reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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