The World Health Organization (WHO) has set up a hub in South Korea to train Nigeria and other low and middle-income countries to produce their own vaccines and therapies.
Nigeria and five other African countries, including Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, and Tunisia were last week selected to receive the technology to manufacture mRNA vaccines at scale and according to international standards.
The director-general of WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus who announced the second hub at a press briefing on Wednesday, also informed that five more countries – Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan, Serbia and Vietnam will receive support from its mRNA technology transfer hub in South Africa.
The new training hub comes after the U.N. agency set up a technology transfer hub in Cape Town, South Africa, last year to give companies from poor and middle-income countries the know-how to produce COVID-19 vaccines based on mRNA technology.
The new hub outside Seoul will provide workforce training to all countries wishing to produce products such as vaccines, insulin, monoclonal antibodies, the WHO DG said.
“Currently, bio-manufacturing training facilities are located mainly in high-income countries, putting them out of reach for many lower-income countries.
“The facility in South Korea is already carrying out training for companies based in the country and will now accommodate trainees from other countries, the WHO DG said.
The countries have been vetted by a group of experts and proved to have the capacity to move to the production stage relatively quickly, he added.
Tedros also disclosed that so far 20 countries have expressed interest in getting training on developing an mRNA vaccine by the South African hub.
The WHO said it was prioritizing countries that do not have mRNA technology but already have some manufacturing infrastructure and capacity.