South Africa, Senegal, Rwanda and Nigeria considered as vaccine production hubs
Africa is working with partners to help create several vaccine manufacturing facilities across the continent, including in Nigeria, South Africa, Senegal and Rwanda, according to the World Trade Organization (WHO).
"We have now seen that over-centralization of vaccine production capacity is incompatible with equitable access in a crisis situation," WHO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said on Monday during a virtual meeting.
"Regional production hubs, in tandem with open supply chains, offer a more promising path to preparedness for future health crisis."
South Africa will host the continent's first Covid-19 vaccine production facility, as President Cyril Ramaphosa said Monday Africa now understood that doses would "never come" from elsewhere in time to save lives.
"The ability to manufacture vaccines, medicines and other health-related commodities will help to put Africa on a path to self-determination," Ramaphosa told a WHO virtual press conference via video-link.
The new hub in South Africa will use Messenger RNA coronavirus vaccine technology. But as the project will take time to get off the ground, no vaccines are expected from it until next year.
"It's been shown now that we just cannot continue to rely on vaccines that are made outside of Africa because they never come. They never arrive on time and people continue to die."
Under the tech transfer hub system, the WHO and its partners bring in the production know-how, quality control and necessary licences to enable a rapid roll-out.
The hub is seen by the Geneva-based WHO as a way to combat the vast inequality in access to vaccines between the world's wealthiest and poorest nations.