By Ajuma Edwina Ameh
With the African continent having limited access to COVID-19 jabs, Nigeria and five other African countries have been chosen to begin the production of the vaccines, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has disclosed.
The five other countries are Egypt, Kenya, Senegal, South Africa, and Tunisia.
According to WHO, the countries were selected as the first recipients of technology from the organisation’s global mRNA vaccine hub in a push to ensure the African continent can make its own jabs to fight COVID and other diseases.
Making the announcement on Friday, the Director-General of WHO, Tedros Ghebreyesus, said: “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.
“I was honoured to visit the Hub last week. And it’s already producing results, with Afrigen’s announcement that it has produced its own mRNA vaccine, based on publicly-available information about the composition of an existing vaccine.
“We expect clinical trials to start in the 4th quarter of this year, with approval expected in 2024. We expect the benefits of this initiative will extend far beyond #COVID19, by creating a platform for vaccines against other diseases including malaria and tuberculosis.
“WHO will work with the companies and the government in each country to develop a roadmap for training and production, based on their needs and capacities.
“We look forward to working with all of you to make this project a success, for the healthier, safer and fairer Africa.”
Ghebreyesus also stressed that the best way to address health emergencies and reach universal health coverage is to significantly increase the capacity of all regions to manufacture the health products they need.