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WHO plans second hub for training countries to make COVID-19 vaccines

WHO plans second hub for training countries to make COVID-19 vaccines

FILE PHOTO: World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus gives a statement on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination, during a European Union - African Union summit, in Brussels, Belgium February 18, 2022. REUTERS/Johanna Geron/Pool

The World Health Organization (WHO) plans to set up a second hub for training countries to produce their own mRNA vaccines as part of its project to get COVID-19 shots made in low- and middle-income countries, its chief said on Wednesday (Feb 23).

In a speech at a vaccine conference, WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus did not name the countries that would be involved in the expansion of the project.

He said more details would be announced later.

The ministers for health from South Korea, Serbia, Vietnam, Argentina and Indonesia's foreign affairs minister are scheduled to take part in a WHO briefing on the technology transfer hub later on Wednesday.

The news comes after the UN agency set up a technology transfer hub in Cape Town, South Africa, last year to give companies from poor and middle-income countries the know-how to produce COVID-19 vaccines based on mRNA technology.

Afrigen Biologics in Cape Town has used Moderna's publicly available vaccine sequence to produce its own version of the US company's COVID-19 shot in labs and is working towards commercial production.

Last week, six African countries - Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia - signed up as the first on the continent to receive the technology to manufacture mRNA vaccines at scale and according to international standards.

On Wednesday, Tedros said so far 20 countries had expressed interest in getting training on developing an mRNA vaccine by the South African hub.

Source: Reuters/fh

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