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Doctors Without Borders Lauds Plan To Establish COVID-19 Vaccine Hub In South Africa

(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – Doctors Without Borders,  also known as Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), has applauded the decision of the World Health Organization (WHO) to establish its first COVID-19 mRNA vaccine technology transfer hub in South Africa.

The hub which is aimed at boosting the supply of vaccines to the rest of the continent, offers established manufacturing infrastructure and research, as well as development expertise.

MSF is an international humanitarian medical Non-Governmental organization (NGO) of French original best known for its projects in conflict zones and in countries affected by endemic diseases.

The organization was founded in 1971, in the aftermath of the Biafra secession, by a small group of French doctors and journalists who sought to expand accessibility to medical care across national boundaries and irrespective of race, religion, creed or political affiliation.

MSF said the establishment of the mRNA vaccine technology transfer hub in South Africa is a welcomed step, adding that the companies that hold the technology, Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech, must agree to immediately share it with the hub so more vaccines can be produced as quickly as possible.

Advocacy Coordinator at MSF’s Access Campaign in South Africa, Kate Stegeman noted that the next thing to do is for Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech to immediately share their mRNA technology with the hub so that many more mRNA vaccines can be produced independently.

It’s good news that the first mRNA technology transfer hub will be set up on the African continent, which has been particularly neglected when it comes to vaccine production capacity and is one of the key factors exacerbating COVID-19 vaccine inequity.

“What needs to happen next is Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech must immediately share their mRNA technology with the hub so that many more mRNA vaccines can be produced independently by manufacturers in South Africa and more broadly on the African continent, as soon as possible”, he said.

Stegeman added that all pharmaceutical corporations that share their technology with the hub through technology transfer agreements must do so in a transparent and non-restrictive way to maximize the chance of success, noting that any licenses must include all low-and-middle-income countries, and technology recipients must be free to build on the platform technology to tackle other health threats.

“Governments supported the WHO on strengthening local production at this year’s World Health Assembly and now have a chance to turn their words into action and foster local production by supporting the hub and pressuring Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech to share their technology”, she stressed.


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