Tuesday, May 18, 2021

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WHO looks to facilitate Covid-19 vaccine manufacturing in low-income countries


The World Health Organization (WHO) and its partners are seeking to expand the capacity of low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) to produce Covid-19 vaccines and scale up manufacturing to increase global access to these critical tools to bring the pandemic under control.

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The WHO will facilitate the establishment of one (or more, as appropriate) technology transfer hub(s) that will use a hub and spoke model (REF) to transfer a comprehensive technology package and provide appropriate training to interested manufacturers in LMICs. This initiative will initially prioritise the mRNA-vaccine technology but could expand to other technologies in the future, the WHO said.

The intention is for these hubs to enable the establishment of production process at an industrial or semi-industrial level, permitting training and provision of all necessary standard operating procedures for production and quality control. It is essential that the technology used is either free of intellectual property constraints in LMICs, or that such rights are made available to the technology hub and the future recipients of the technology through non-exclusive licences to produce, export and distribute the Covid-19 vaccine in LMICs, including through the Covax facility, WHO said.

Preference will be given to applicants who have already generated clinical data in humans, as such clinical data will contribute to accelerated approval of the vaccines in LMICs, the WHO said.

It is anticipated that WHO will work with funders and donors to mobilise financial support to establish the hubs and, as they are being established, to support the transfer of technology to selected manufacturers in LMICs, taking into consideration the need to establish permanent vaccine production capacity in regions where this is currently mostly absent, the WHO said. This broader objective will ensure that all WHO regions will be able to produce vaccines as essential preparedness measures against future infectious threats, it added.

To support this activity, WHO is seeking expressions of interest from:

1. Small/middle-sized (public or private) manufacturers of medical products (drugs, vaccines or drug substances) preferably, but not exclusively, in LMICs, which could host a Covid-19 mRNA hub.

2. Owners (public or private) of technology and/or intellectual property rights. These may be academic institutions, pharmaceutical companies, non-governmental organisations or any other entity willing to contribute these to a technology transfer hub, under the auspices of WHO, to enable production of mRNA-based Covid-19 vaccines in LMICs.

Entities willing to be considered as a technology transfer hub, or able to provide the necessary know-how, process training, and intellectual property rights, are invited to provide a brief summary of their capacity, and their interest in participating in the establishment of a Covid-19 vaccine technology transfer hub to: Martin Friede ([email protected]) and Raj Long ([email protected])

Published : April 17, 2021

By : THE NATION