by Wendell Roelf
CAPE TOWN, Sept 14 (Reuters) – Efforts to develop an African base for COVID-19 vaccine production will focus on trying to replicate Moderna’s injection, but lack of progress in talks with the company they will delay the project, a senior WHO official told Reuters.
The initiative to produce vaccines in Africa is aimed at helping more poor countries access COVID-19 vaccines, after rich countries bought most of the supply for this year.
Moderna said last October that it would not enforce patents related to its injection during the pandemic, prompting hopes that other companies could copy it and help boost production of the COVID-19 vaccine.
In practice, however, it is difficult to reproduce a vaccine without information on its manufacture, and the World Health Organization-backed technology transfer center in South Africa has so far not reached an agreement with the company.
“The talks have not yielded any results,” Martin Friede, coordinator of the WHO Initiative for Vaccine Research, told Reuters.
Moderna did not respond to a request for comment.
The case highlights the challenges WHO faces in its fight to scale up vaccine production to help resolve the glaring inequalities between rich and poor countries during the pandemic.
More than three-quarters of the 5.5 billion COVID-19 vaccines administered worldwide have gone to high- and upper-middle-income countries, which account for just over a third of the world’s population.