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mRNA technology is the 'answer' for sustainable local vaccine production

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Panelists at the Global Health Centre at the Geneva Graduate Institute

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Panelists Chioma Nuwakchuu and Kim Hyunsook, and moderators Jan Luca Burch and Martin Friede. At the Center for Global Health at the Geneva Graduate Institute.

Martin Friede, vaccine research coordinator for the World Health Organization (WHO), told a panel convened by the Global Health Center at the Geneva Graduate Institute on Monday that if sustainability in vaccine production is a problem, mRNA technology is the answer. He said it was..

“The big advantage of mRNA is that, in theory, you can use that technology to make a lot of vaccines. Freed said on the panel. Long-term sustainability of local vaccine production, held in collaboration with the Republic of Korea (ROK) Permanent Mission in Geneva.

Moreover, a small facility that would cost about $10 million to $11 million to set up could produce large amounts of mRNA, enough for about 100 million vaccines a year, he said.

This contrasts with attempts by the WHO several years ago to encourage decentralized manufacturing of influenza vaccines, which required a capital investment of about $200 million per facility. is not adaptable for the production of other vaccines, he added.

two big asses

Martin Friede, Vaccine Research Coordinator, World Health Organization (WHO).

However, according to Friede, there are two major problems associated with mRNA. First, few people know how to make mRNA vaccines, most of them working for big pharmaceutical companies BioNtech and Moderna.

Second, unless a facility produces multiple vaccines, staff will get bored and move elsewhere.

To address the first obstacle, WHO established an mRNA Development Hub in South Africa to develop mRNA technology for low and middle income populations. Big pharmaceutical companies objected to sharing recipes and know-how for COVID-19 vaccines, so WHO enlisted the help of academics involved in the mRNA discovery. This hub has created a Moderna-like vaccine that is in the process of beginning animal testing.

To address the challenges of underutilized staff, Friede has shown that mRNA production capacity can be added to facilities that produce other products such as biopharmaceuticals, monoclonal antibodies, and even veterinary and agricultural products. I am proposing.

“So sustainability really comes down to the cost of maintaining the facility and the cost of having staff devoted to other things when they’re not making mRNA vaccines,” he advises. increase.

Gavi’s ‘Market Shaping’

Meanwhile, Chioma Nwakuchwu, Senior Manager of Public Policy Engagement at Gavi, talks about the “fine balance of market shaping” that the global vaccine platform has engaged to expand its vaccine manufacturing base over the past two decades.

“When we first started in 2001, we only had five suppliers from five different countries. But as you can see, over the past 20 years or so, we have had 18 manufacturers from 12 countries,” says Nwakuchwu. says Mr.

But she admits vaccine supplies were inadequate in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Gavi added more manufacturers to its database to ensure routine vaccinations, not just during the pandemic. I was wondering how to add to the .

“We see this as an opportunity to scale up market shaping and sound market frameworks, in line with the vision of an organization that truly values ​​equitable access.”

In response to Friede, who asked if Gabi was considering “supporting local sourcing for local use, or at least some mechanism related to this,” Nukuchu said that Gabi had no interest in African diseases for non-COVID products. I have confirmed with the management center that this is being considered.

“Initially, the focus was on COVID-19, but now that the Africa CDC is spearheading this initiative in Africa, we can say, ‘Look at the disease landscape in Africa. Let’s do this, because it might make more sense from an investment perspective.”

“This is a continental ambition, so the challenge must be about coordination. They have set about 22 antigens they want to procure,” she said.

She confirmed that Gavi is helping to increase manufacturing capacity in Africa against delays on the “right side” that hinder equitable access to medical products, but Gavi is responding to new manufacturers. He added that they are in the process of writing a white paper to consider how to do so. It was a “stable and healthy global supplier base”.

South Korea’s biohub

Ambassador Park Jong-sung, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Korea to Geneva

WHO opened the second Hub, this time about biomanufacturingin the Republic of Korea (ROK) in February, to train people in low- and middle-income countries on how to manufacture biologics such as vaccines, insulin, monoclonal antibodies, and cancer treatments.

“My country is determined to help lower and middle income countries strengthen their biomanufacturing capacity so that they can pave the way for a safer and more secure world in the face of the health crisis. ‘Geneva’s permanent mission told the panel.

Hyunsook Kim, director of the hub under South Korea’s Ministry of Health, said the hub has already conducted four training sessions this year. A cake you don’t bake yourself.”

“Biopharmaceutical manufacturing is very different from chemical manufacturing,” says Kim.

“If you want to make chemicals, you just mix them. Then you have to extract the substance from the cells, which means purification, then you have to make a liquid or powder of a suitable formulation and inject that liquid or powder into a syringe or vial .”

More hands-on training will be offered next year, she said, and the hub is not only talking to donors to get more investment, but also building facilities to establish a “global bio-campus.” He added that it is expanding.

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