Geneva — World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has fought hard for vaccine equity in the battle against COVID-19. On Friday, a visit to an mRNA vaccine technology transfer hub in South Africa will add a piece to the jigsaw puzzle which has to be built to achieve that.
Tedros will join Belgium’s Minister of Development Cooperation, Ms Meryame Kitir, on a high-level visit to Cape Town on February 11 and 12.
There they will visit the mRNA vaccine technology transfer hub and other facilities involved in the response to COVID-19 and the protection of public health.
WHO’s chief scientist, Dr Soumya Swaminathan, explained to journalists at the United Nations on February 4 the choice of mRNA as the first technology transfer hub after earlier welcoming the rapid development of vaccines against the pandemic.
Chronic vaccine inequity resulted “to a large extent… because of the lack of manufacturing capacity and facilities,” and getting medicines to where they are needed, said Swaminathan.
“And therefore, it became very obvious that the countries that were suffering the most were those that were dependent entirely on imports, which did not have their own [resources], from diagnostic tests to gloves and oxygen and PPE all the way to vaccines,” said Swaminathan.