Kenya among countries to get Covid-19 vaccine technology

WHO boss Tedros

WHO boss Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. 

Photo credit: Christopher Black | WHO | AFP

What you need to know:

  • The countries will receive mRNA technology used to produce vaccines such as Pfizer and Moderna.

The World Health Organization on Friday announced six African countries that will benefit from technology transfer for Covid-19 vaccines, boosting the continent’s ability to produce more doses locally.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a press conference in Brussels that Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Senegal and Tunisia will receive mRNA technology as one way of boosting vaccine equity across the world.

The technology transfer project had been launched as part of efforts to help low-income countries manufacture Covid-19 vaccines according to global standards of quality. The technology is used to produce vaccines such as Pfizer and Moderna.

“Today, I’m delighted to announce the first six African countries that will receive technology from the hub to produce their own mRNA vaccines: Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia,” Dr Tedros said at a joint virtual briefing with the presidents of France, South Africa and the European Council.

The technology produces vaccines that boost immunity by ‘teaching’ body cells to produce proteins that can trigger immune responses against infections, the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention says.

Last year, the WHO established its global mRNA technology transfer hub to deal with the hogging of supplies and to boost vaccination rates in poor countries.

The announcement was made at the ongoing EU-Africa Summit in Brussels even as African countries demanded a waiver on intellectual property rights under emergence exemptions to be allowed mass local production.

This bid has been opposed in the past by big pharmaceutical companies. On Wednesday, EU officials told journalists the bloc will invest $45 million in Africa to boost local production.