WHO-backed vaccine hub for Africa to copy Moderna COVID-19 shot

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WHO official says stalled talks between tech transfer hub and US company could slow project to produce shots for Africa.
Efforts to develop an African base for COVID-19 vaccine production will focus on trying to replicate Moderna's shot, but a lack of progress in talks with the US company mean the project will take time, a senior World Health Organization (WHO) official has said.

The drive to produce vaccines in Africa is designed to help more developing countries access COVID-19 shots after rich nations bought up most of this year's supply.

Moderna said last October it would not enforce patents related to its shot during the pandemic, raising hopes that other companies might be able to copy it and help boost COVID-19 vaccine production.

In practice, though, it is hard to replicate a vaccine without the information on how it is made, and the WHO-backed tech transfer hub in South Africa – set up in June to give poorer nations the know-how to produce COVID-19 vaccines – has not yet reached a deal with the company.

Vials with a sticker reading, 'COVID-19 / Coronavirus vaccine / Injection only' and a medical syringe are seen in front of a displayed Moderna logo, October 31, 2020 [File: Dado Ruvic/Reuters]

"The talks have not yielded any results," Martin Friede, WHO Initiative for Vaccine Research coordinator, told Reuters.

Moderna did not respond to a request for comment.

The case highlights the challenges faced by the WHO as it battles to expand vaccine production to help address the glaring inequalities between rich and poor nations in the…
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