Leading a world-class consortium to create the first technology transfer hub for COVID-19 vaccines in Africa, South Africa’s Department of Science and Innovation is convening a multi-stakeholder forum on Thursday, in collaboration with local and international partners, as COVID-19 cases continue to rise.

“Omicron is the latest COVID-19 variant to give Africa a stark reminder that it needs to make haste in developing its own vaccine manufacturing capacity to ensure viable vaccine security for its population,” said the department.

The establishment of the hub is driven by the South African government through the Presidency.

Themed: “Strengthening Africa’s vaccine manufacturing capacity through the South African mRNA technology transfer hub,” the forum is the first open dialogue on the establishment of this hub set to teach African manufacturers how to make mRNA vaccines, like the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

Higher Education, Science and Innovation Minister, Dr Blade Nzimande, as well as Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla will address the event.

In June, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that South Africa would be the host country for what is set to be the continent’s first COVID-19 vaccine production facility.

The WHO, a South African consortium and partners from COVAX are working together in the initiative to help boost and scale up vaccine production in Africa.

The partnership includes the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC), Afrigen, Biovac, the African Union’s Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention and Medicines Patent Pool, a United Nations-backed public health organisation working to increase access to, and facilitate the development of, life-saving medicines for low and middle-income countries.

Dr Martin Friede, the WHO coordinator of the initiative, will speak in a panel discussion, which will include SAMRC President and CEO, Professor Glenda Gray and Biovac CEO, Dr Morena Makhoana.

Professor Petro Terblanche, Managing Director of Afrigen and Dr Charles Gore of the UN Medicines Patent Pool will also take part in the panel discussion.

Source: South African Government News Agency