South Africa has welcomed the opportunity to host a vaccine technology transfer hub and to build on the capacity and expertise that already exists on the continent as Africa struggles to obtain Covid-19 vaccine doses.
President Cyril Ramaphosa welcomed the establishment of the first messenger RNA technology transfer hub for Covid-19 vaccines in South Africa in a briefing held with French President Emmanuel Macron and World Health Organisation director-general Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus.
Ramaphosa said that the ability to manufacture vaccines, medicines and other health-related commodities on the continent would help put Africa on a path to self-determination.
“Today marks an important milestone towards the achievement of one of the critical objectives of the African Union’s Agenda 2063: the Africa we want. Through this initiative and others, we will change the narrative of an Africa that is a centre of disease and poor development.
“With this investment of technology, knowledge and expertise, we will go beyond the development and manufacture of vaccines into a new era of innovation and progress,” he said.
He added that the pandemic revealed the full extent of the vaccine gap between developed and developing economies, which can severely undermine global health security.
“We will create a narrative that celebrates our successes in reducing the burden of disease and in advancing self-reliance and sustainable development. This will enhance our capacity to take responsibility for the health of our people,” he added.
South Africa will pursue these objectives in close cooperation with other countries on the continent, while enhancing regional trade and investing in science and innovation.
He says the continent can better plan for the entire value chain, ranging from training a critical mass of young people, enhancing and maintaining supply chains and ensuring the efficient use of medicines.
“As we work together to respond to this grave global crisis, we are laying a firm foundation for the achievement of health security for the world’s most vulnerable people. In the achievement of this goal, we will not fail,” Ramaphosa said.