Scientists in South Africa have made a copy of the Moderna Covid vaccine, a move which
they say could help boost vaccination rates across Africa.
The continent currently has the lowest uptake of Covid shots in the world.
The company behind the new vaccine – Afrigen Biologics- says it hopes to start clinical trials in
November. Moderna previously said it would not enforce the patents on its vaccine,allowing
scientists in Cape Town to make their own version of it. The researchers were backed by
the World Health Organization (WHO). Petro Terblanche, director of Afrigen Biologics,
said they were starting small, but had ambitions to scale up quickly.
“This is part of a global initiative to build capacity and capability in low and
middle-income countries to become self-sufficient.” The shot being copied is a messenger
RNA vaccine made by US firm Moderna. Pfizer-BioNTech also made its vaccine using
the same technology. They were some of the first Covid vaccines to be authorised for use
around the world.This type of vaccine teaches cells how to make a protein that will trigger
an immune response inside our bodies, rather than putting a weakened or inactivated germ into
the body.The company’s chief scientist, Dr Caryn Fenner, called the achievement “really significant”.