When Professor Petro Terblanche joined biotechnology start-up Afrigen three years ago, she had no idea that the team she was heading up would create the continent’s first mRNA vaccine. But that wasn’t the first time Terblanche had been at the forefront of cutting-edge scientific work. Aisha Abdool Karim spoke to her as part of Spotlight’s Women in Health series.
Earlier this month Cape Town-based vaccine company Afrigen announced a formal collaboration with the United States National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’ (NIAID’s) Vaccine Research Centre. Catherine Tomlinson unpacks what this deal may mean for local production of vaccines for COVID-19 and other diseases.
In January, Cape Town-based biotechnology company Afrigen Biologics announced that it has successfully produced a lab-scale batch of a mRNA vaccine against COVID-19 that is similar to that made by pharmaceutical company Moderna. Catherine Tomlinson takes an in-depth look at how Afrigen managed to reach this point and what further challenges have to be overcome before mRNA vaccines can be produced at scale in South Africa
On Monday President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that South Africa will host the first World Health Organization-backed COVID-19 mRNA vaccine Technology Transfer Hub – an initiative designed to get the production of mRNA vaccines off the ground in Africa. Parties involved in the hub expect to hear as early as next week whether pharmaceutical companies with mRNA COVID-vaccines for COVID-19 on the market – Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech – will share their know-how with the hub. Chris Bateman reports for Spotlight.