President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday welcomed South Africa’s selection to host Africa’s first coronavirus vaccines-making facility which the World Health Organisation announced on Monday.The WHO said it was working with its Covax partners to identify a number of South African consortia to establish a technology transfer hub for making the much-needed life-saving drugs designed to lessen the extreme effects of the deadly viral disease that has claimed nearly 60,000 people in the country.
The hub would be established through a partnership consisting of South Africa’s Biovac Institute, Afrigen, the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) and universities, the UN agency said.
The facility would boost vaccine manufacturing and supply in Africa as the region continued to struggle with vaccine procurement, according to the president.
Acknowledging that African countries have had the least access to vaccine, Ramaphosa hailed the WHO’s decision as a landmark initiative.
“South Africa welcomes the opportunity to host a vaccine technology transfer hub and to build on the capacity and expertise that already exists on the continent to contribute to this effort,” Ramaphosa said.
He added: “We see this as laying a firm foundation for the achievement of health security for the world’s most vulnerable people.”
With this new development, South Africa could start producing the Covid-19 vaccines within a year, according to the UN health agency.
South Africa and India have been at the forefront of calls for Covid-19 vaccine producers to transfer their technology to Africa and other developing regions in order to facilitate the rapid manufacturing and supplies of the drugs to vaccinate the needy – who are currently greatly under-vaccinated.