WHO expands mRNA tech transfer to more countries in battle against COVID

The World Health Organization (WHO) expanded its efforts to combat the pandemic by offering mRNA technology to five more countries as part of a global push to increase manufacturing of COVID-19 vaccines for underserved nations.

The latest countries added to the list are Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan, Serbia and Vietnam. They join Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia, which were announced last week, in getting mRNA vaccine technology from the WHO’s hub located in Cape Town, South Africa.

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The first African countries—Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, and Tunisia—were named to get the technology last week, joining Argentina and Brazil, which were announced in September 2021. Brazil’s Bio-Manguinhos Institute of Technology on Immunobiologics, part of the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, and Argentina’s Sinergium Biotech were chosen to develop and manufacture active vaccine ingredients.

While North America, Europe, Australia and parts of Asia including Japan and South Korea have made great strides in manufacturing and distributing COVID-19 vaccines, less developed countries have struggled to get shots in arms.

The countries were picked based on their current ability to integrate the technology with preexisting manufacturing capabilities along with additional training to reach production more quickly, the health organization said.

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"WHO will enter into discussions with other interested countries, and other mRNA technology recipients will be announced in the coming months,” WHO said in a statement.

Additionally, WHO announced it is partnering with South Korea to develop a global bio manufacturing training hub for low- and middle-income countries that want to manufacture biologics, vaccines, insulin, monoclonal antibodies and cancer treatments in the future.