The World Health Organization said Monday it’s setting up a hub in South Africa to help poor and middle-income countries produce their own COVID-19 vaccines using the mRNA technology behind the world’s most effective shots. The WHO said its plan could see new vaccine production begin in South Africa in as little as nine to 12 months. The U.N. agency called on Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech to share their technology to make the plan successful.
This came as South African President Cyril Ramaphosa blasted wealthy nations and pharmaceutical companies that have refused to transfer life-saving technology to the Global South. On Monday, Ramaphosa repeated his call for a three-year waiver on intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines.
President Cyril Ramaphosa: “We are facing an emergency that is affecting the entire world. And it is wholly unfair and wholly unjust that pharmaceutical companies, as well as certain countries, are refusing to allow this provision to be waived so that there can be mass production of these vaccines, so that we can save lives.”
Ramaphosa’s remarks came as COVID-19 cases and deaths across the African continent surged by more than 40% over the past week.