By David Himbara
Kagame boasted that Rwanda will soon become a hub for producing Covid19 vaccine. On the same day that Kagame was making grand promises, a South African consortium led by bio-pharmaceutical companies launched a Covid19 mRNA vaccine technology transfer hub. This is great news for Africa, a continent lagging behind in the battle against Covid19.
In an embarrassingly incoherent speech delivered virtually at Qatar Economic Forum on June 21, 2021, General Paul Kagame claimed that Rwanda will soon become a hub for producing Covid19 vaccine. How this will be achieved in a country that does not have a single bio-pharmaceutical company remains to be seen. But while Kagame was boasting about his grand plans, South Africa made a breakthrough on establishing a Covid mRNA vaccine transfer technology hub. This is great news for a continent with the least access to Covid19 vaccine.
On June 21, 2021, a South African consortium comprising Biovac, Afrigen Biologics and Vaccines, a network of universities, and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) launched a vaccine transfer technology hub. Production oF COVID vaccine on the Africa continent has finally become a reality, thanks to the South African consortium. Speaking at the launch of this initiative on June 21, 2021, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa stated:
“This initiative will not just benefit South Africa, but working together with the @AfricaCDC and the @WHO we will make sure that it benefits the entire African continent.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) warmly welcomed this development. As Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General put it, “this is great news, particularly for Africa, which has the least access to vaccines.”
About the main players in the South African effort: Biovac is a bio-pharmaceutical company that formed a partnership with the South African government in 2003 to establish local vaccine manufacturing capability. Afrigen Biologics and Vaccines is a biotechnology company that focuses on product development, supply and distribution of key biologicals that address unmet healthcare needs. South Africa’s world class universities will provide academic support by availing mRNA know-how, while Africa CDC will provide technical and regional support. Stay tuned.