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The First mRNA Vaccine Designed, Developed and Produced at Lab Scale In Africa

South Africa’s Afrigen Biologics has used the publicly available sequence of Moderna’s COVID-19 mRNA vaccine to make its own version of the shot, which could be tested in humans before the end of this year. The vaccine candidate would be the first to be made based on a widely used vaccine without the assistance and approval of the developer. The World Health Organization (WHO) last year picked a consortium, including Afrigen, for a pilot project to give poor and middle-income countries the know-how to make COVID-19 vaccines, after market leaders of the mRNA COVID vaccine, Pfizer, BioNTech, and Moderna, declined a WHO request to share their technology and expertise.The WHO and partners hope the hub will help overcome glaring inequalities between rich nations and poorer countries in accessing vaccine doses, with 99 percent of all of Africa’s vaccines imported and the negligible remainder manufactured locally. Biovac, a partly state-owned South African vaccine producer, will be the first recipient of the technology from the hub. Afrigen has also agreed to help train companies in Argentina and Brazil.