The mRNA vaccine Technology Transfer Hub
A need for equity in access to COVID-19 vaccines
The mRNA vaccine Technology Transfer Hub was established in response of the flagrant inequities in access to COVID-19 vaccines in low- and middle-income countries, especially in Africa. Formally established in July 2021, the purpose of the hub is to increase access to mRNA vaccines made closer to home by establishing manufacturing capacity using a technology transfer hub model to ensure sustainable vaccine security in future pandemics.
The Hub: an initiative led by a consortium of national and international partners
South Africa has been selected as the mRNA global Technology Transfer Hub and a consortium was formed to develop the Hub over the coming years. In July 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO), Afrigen Biologics (PTY) Limited, the Biologicals and Vaccines Institute of Southern Africa (Biovac), the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC), Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) and MPP signed a letter of intent to set it up. The Hub will be a mRNA training facility where the technology is established at industrial scale and clinical development is performed. Interested manufacturers from low- and middle-income countries can receive training and any necessary licences to the technology. WHO and partners will bring in the production know-how, quality control and necessary licences to a single entity to facilitate a broad and rapid technology transfer to multiple recipients around the world.
MPP and WHO
WHO is the leading agency, coordinating the health-related work at international level. It defines health standards and criteria for the Technology Transfer Hub, formulating evidence-based policy options and providing technical support. WHO works closely with partners, its regional offices, and Member States to accomplish this health-related mission. The technology transfer hub is benefitting from MPP’s experience of intellectual property management and issuing of voluntary licences. MPP also assists WHO in negotiating with technical partners and in the governance of the Hub.
Timeline over the next five years
[Travel report] MPP site visit to formalise discussions around the creation of the mRNA vaccine technology transfer hub in South Africa
At the invitation of the World Health Organization and with the support of the Department of Science and Innovation of South Africa, representatives from the Medicines Patent Pool and other local and international partners of a consortium working to address the global imbalance of manufacturing capacity for COVID-19 vaccines met from 6-9 September 2021 to discuss next steps in establishing the South African mRNA technology transfer hub that will allow for greater and more diversified vaccines manufacturing capability, strengthen African regional health security and respond more equitably to the current COVID-19 pandemic and future pandemics. They also visited the Afrigen and Biovac facilities to validate conformity, compliance and alignement with the Hub concept.