by Kevon Browne
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): The development and production of mRNA-based vaccines will begin in two Latin American countries to give the region more accessibility to the vaccines for COVID-19 and future infectious diseases.
The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), in a press release, announced the selection of two centres in Argentina and Brazil as regional hubs for the development and production of mRNA-based vaccines.
The announcement was made by Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, World Health Organization (WHO) Chief Scientist, and PAHO Assistant Director Dr. Jarbas Barbosa during a side event on the margins of PAHO’s 59th Directing Council.
Dr. Swaminathan explained why the focus on mRNA vaccines?
“So why mRNA? Clearly, this technology, compared to others, has proven to be highly successful, at least for COVID vaccines, and is also very highly adaptable. So not just for the variants that this virus may throw at us in the future, but also against other pathogens. There’s already work that started now on using mRNA platform for malaria, TB vaccines for example. It can also be used to produce monoclonal antibodies, so it’s a very versatile platform, and therefore it has advantages.”
The two labs are the Bio-Manguinhos Institute of Technology on Immunobiologicals at the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (FIOCRUZ) was selected as the centre in Brazil, and Sinergium Biotech, a private sector biopharmaceutical company, was chosen as the centre in Argentina.
The two companies reportedly have extensive experience in the production and development of vaccines and biotechnological medicines.
PAHO Director Dr Carissa F. Etienne said in her opening remarks explained what this selection means for the future of medical treatment development throughout the region.
“Our aim is to establish a regional consortium across the region, linking the production of the mRNA with the production of multiple reagents and products that are required for the complete production cycle; that’s why we are proposing this regional platform. We propose to stimulate the development of regional supply chains where countries in the Americas can contribute and work together to reduce the critical inputs that are required to produce an mRNA vaccine. So it’s an all of region approach, where every country would be able to work together to ensure that we work towards self-sufficiency, beginning with the mRNA vaccine and then as the resolution that we just passed, indicates we will move to self-sufficiency in the production of health technology, medicines and other vaccines.”
The selection results from April 2021 WHO call for expression of interest, inviting manufacturers and research institutions to contribute to establishing COVID-19 mRNA vaccine technology transfer hubs in emerging economies. The initiative was supported by PAHO/WHO global partners such as the Medicines Patent Pool.
More than thirty expressions of interest were made from Latin American companies and scientific institutions.