South Africa bags first mRNA tech transfer hub; The EU’s push for a declaration at the WTO


  • South Africa bags the first mRNA tech transfer hub, backed by France
  • For a world clutching at the straws, there is palpable excitement about a first tech transfer hub to produce mRNA vaccines in Africa.
  • The statement from WHO on the South African consortium that has bagged the first COVID mRNA vaccine technology transfer hub, is scant on the details particularly on licensing terms. It is not clear whether for instance, such a hub, would work with the COVID-19 Technology Access Pool. (See our earlier story on this). Neither the press release nor the statement of DG Tedros has any mention of C-TAP.
  • In April, WHO issued a call for expressions of interest to establish technology transfer hubs for COVID-19 mRNA vaccines, and it received 50 proposals, WHO has said.
  • Top officials indicated that it would be faster to produce approved mRNA vaccines, while new vaccine candidates would need to go through clinical trials.
  • (Unfortunately we did not get a chance to ask our question at the briefing announcing the new hub.)
  • In a statement, Kate Stegeman, Advocacy Coordinator, MSF Access Campaign in South Africa said:
  • The lack of sufficient transparency around the creation of hubs, under the aegis of the ACT Accelerator is problematic. Nevertheless, this development is welcome considering the potential it generates for manufacturing capacities in Africa even if in the medium term.
  • It is not evident how such hubs will address current challenges. After all, in Africa, the number of cases and deaths increased by almost 40% in the past week, and in some countries the number of deaths tripled or quadrupled, WHO has said.
  • What was interesting note was the strong assertion at the event from South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa suggesting that while the mRNA tech hub was a welcome initiative, he believed that the TRIPS waiver would go further to facilitate the sharing of technology.
  • See Health Policy Watch: South Africa to Become Africa’s First mRNA Vaccine Manufacturing Hub — WHO Asks Big Pharma to Support Scaleup
Image Credit: Photo by Pixabay from Pexels
  • (This post was updated after publication to include the view from the South African President.)



My colleague Rithika has pulled this together for you:




Antoine de Bengy at the University of Oslo citing Sophie Harman’s recent piece.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Geneva Health Files

Geneva Health Files

A newsletter from the capital of global health, reporting on politics, policies and power.