South Africa, WHO discuss vaccine production

President Cyril Ramaphosa has welcomed the oversight visit by the World Health Organisation as an opportunity to profile the depth of intellectual and technological capacity on the African continent, and the integrity with which, intellectual property is being leveraged to enable vaccine production on the continent.

The President met with World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus,in Cape Town on Friday, to discuss progress in making Africa self-sufficient in the production of COVID-19 vaccines and related treatments.

Dr Ghebreyesus and the Belgian Minister of Development Cooperation Meryame Kitir visited the country on a two-day visit to various vaccine-related sites around Cape Town, hosted by the Department of Science and Innovation, the Department of Health and other partners.

The two-day visit served to showcase South Africa’s capacity and infrastructure in the development of vaccines for current and potentially new strains of COVID-19, and to highlight how manufacturing in South Africa is a critical contribution to the continent’s response to COVID-19.

The Director-General paid a visit to President Ramaphosa at the President’s official residence at Genadendal to engage him in his capacity as the African Union (AU) COVID-19 Champion.

“Dr Tedros commended South Africa’s capability in this regard and welcomed President Ramaphosa’s continued commitment, as AU COVID-19 Champion, to vaccine equity at the global level, and to securing vaccines for Africa as the continent with the least access to this form of protection,” the Presidency said.

The visit by Dr Tedros and Kitir is focused on the mRNA vaccine technology transfer hub and ongoing vaccination initiatives, including the mRNA Hub at Afrigen, genomic sequencing at the Biomedical Research Institute and the fill and finish facility at Biovac.