Top South African HIV clinicians are setting their sights on different approaches to finding an HIV vaccine after the “disappointing” news that the Mosaico trial was stopped early because the vaccine did not show any efficacy. The search for an HIV jab now seems set to pivot from vaccines that induce T-cell immunity to ones that induce B-cell immunity. Adele Baleta unpacks what that means and the reasoning behind it.
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
The two vaccines used in South Africa’s vaccination programme, those from Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer/BioNTech, have both been shown to be highly effective against COVID-19, particularly in preventing hospitalisation and death. But protection may wane over time and new variants may or may not render these vaccines less effective. Adele Baleta unpacks what we do and do not know about the potential need for booster shots and surveys some of the studies that will help fill the gaps.
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.
Messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines, such as the COVID-19 vaccines made by Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech, have been hailed for their manufacturing advantages over conventional vaccines – so much so that African leaders such as President Cyril Ramaphosa has called for mRNA production capacity to be developed in Africa. Catherine Tomlinson examines why mRNA vaccines are easier to make than some other types of vaccines and asks what it will take to build such production capacity.