WHO / COVID-19

23-Feb-2022 00:05:01
The World Health Organization (WHO), the Republic of Korea and the WHO Academy announced on Tuesday the establishment of a global biomanufacturing training hub that will serve all low- and middle-income countries wishing to produce biologicals, such as vaccines, insulin, monoclonal antibodies and cancer treatments. WHO

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STORY: WHO / COVID-19
TRT: 5:01
SOURCE: WHO
RESTRICTIONS: PLEASE CREDIT WHO ON SCREEN
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / NATS

DATELINE: GENEVA, SWITZERLAND
SHOTLIST
1. Wide shot, WHO headquarters exterior
2. Wide shot, meeting room
3. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General:
"Vaccines have helped to change the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. But this scientific triumph has been undermined by vast inequities in access to these life-saving tools. Much of this inequity has been driven by the fact that globally, vaccine production is concentrated in a few mostly high-income countries. One of the most obvious lessons of the pandemic, therefore, is the urgent need to increase local production of vaccines, especially in low- and middle-income countries."
4. Wide shot, meeting room
5. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General:
"The aim of the hub is to provide a facility where manufacturers from low- and middle-income countries can receive training in how to produce certain vaccines, and the licenses to do so. We believe the mRNA Technology Transfer Hub holds huge promise, not just for increasing access to vaccines against COVID-19, but also for other diseases including malaria, tuberculosis and cancer."
6. Wide shot, meeting room
7. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General:
"Producing mRNA vaccines poses some barriers to low- and middle-income countries, including their cost, and the fact that they require a cold chain that is difficult and expensive to implement. It also requires a skilled and trained workforce. Currently, biomanufacturing training facilities are located mainly in high-income countries, and operate on a fee-based system, putting them out of reach for many lower-income countries. That’s why today, WHO, the Republic of Korea, and the WHO Academy are announcing the establishment of a global biomanufacturing training hub that will serve low- and middle-income countries that wish to produce not just vaccines, but other biologics, including insulin and monoclonal antibodies."
8. Wide shot, meeting room
9. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General:
"This pandemic is unprecedented, and whatever provisions we had for emergencies like this one, like the IP waiver, if we cannot use them now, when we do we use them? This is unprecedented and they have to be tested now, actually in terms of IP waiver. And we want to make that very, very clear. But while pushing for that of course, we need to move with the process we have started, which is the new product that Afrigen has already developed. So all options will be open."
10. Wide shot, meeting room
11. SOUNDBITE (English) Soumya Swaminathan, WHO Chief Scientist:
"So we're looking at this as a medium to long term initiative, not as you (journalist who asked question) said, necessarily solving the problems in 2022. We know the pandemic hasn't ended, we know that there may be ongoing demand for vaccines, so this project may still satisfy the demand in the future and make perhaps better vaccines with better properties available as we move ahead. As you know, one of the things we're trying to do here is to promote more R&D and sharing of information and knowledge with these networks of centres that are going to be setup because mRNA technology is new and currently comes with a lot of limitations in usage, especially the cold storage conditions. So there could be game changing technologies in the pipeline wherem RNA could be stored at 4 to 8 degrees (Celsius), for example, and also be made in ways that make it more affordable to produce these vaccines."
12. Wide shot, meeting room
13. SOUNDBITE (English) Soumya Swaminathan, WHO Chief Scientist:
"I think this technology and this whole process of empowering and building capacity in places around the world will not only enable more work on vaccines of other public health importance like TB, like dengue, like chikungunya and other diseases, but also serve, you know, as our backup plan for the next pandemic so that if, and let's hope there isn't, but if there is another pandemic with another pathogen, there will be all of these distributed manufacturing sites that are capable of absorbing and quickly scaling up mRNA so that if any one lab in the world were to develop a vaccine for that new pathogen, then within a few weeks or months, we could have capacity, we could have manufacturing, scaling up very rapidly."
14. Wide shot, meeting room
STORYLINE
The World Health Organization (WHO), the Republic of Korea and the WHO Academy announced on Tuesday the establishment of a global biomanufacturing training hub that will serve all low- and middle-income countries wishing to produce biologicals, such as vaccines, insulin, monoclonal antibodies and cancer treatments.

The move comes after the successful establishment of a global mRNA vaccine technology transfer hub in South Africa.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, said "Vaccines have helped to change the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. But this scientific triumph has been undermined by vast inequities in access to these life-saving tools.”

Much of this inequity has been driven by the fact that globally, vaccine production is concentrated in a few mostly high-income countries. One of the most obvious lessons of the pandemic, therefore, is the urgent need to increase local production of vaccines, especially in low- and middle-income countries", Ghebreyesus said.

The aim of the hub is to provide a facility where manufacturers from low- and middle-income countries can receive training in how to produce certain vaccines, and the licenses to do so.

Ghebreyesus said, “We believe the mRNA Technology Transfer Hub holds huge promise, not just for increasing access to vaccines against COVID-19, but also for other diseases including malaria, tuberculosis and cancer."

Soumya Swaminathan, WHO Chief Scientist, said this is a medium to long term initiative.

“We know the pandemic hasn't ended, we know that there may be ongoing demand for vaccines, so this project may still satisfy the demand in the future and make perhaps better vaccines with better properties available as we move ahead”, said Swaminathan

Swaminathan said, “this technology and this whole process of empowering and building capacity in places around the world will not only enable more work on vaccines of other public health importance like TB, like dengue, like chikungunya and other diseases, but also serve, you know, as our backup plan for the next pandemic..."

The Government of the Republic of Korea has offered a large facility outside Seoul that is already carrying out biomanufacturing training for companies based in the country and will now expand its operations to accommodate trainees from other countries.

The facility will provide technical and hands-on training on operational and good manufacturing practice requirements and will complement specific trainings developed by the mRNA vaccine technology transfer hub in South Africa.

The WHO Academy will work with the Korean Ministry of Health and Welfare to develop a comprehensive curriculum on general biomanufacturing.

Five more countries will also receive support from the global mRNA hub in South Africa: Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan, Serbia and Vietnam.

These countries were vetted by a group of experts and proved that they had the capacity to absorb the technology and, with targeted training, move to production stage relatively quickly.

Argentina and Brazil were the first countries from the region of the Americas to receive mRNA technology from the global hub in South Africa, joining the initiative in September 2021. Companies from those countries are already receiving training from the technology transfer hub.

Numerous countries responded to the call for expressions of interest from the technology transfer hub in late 2021.

WHO will provide support to all of the respondents but is currently prioritizing countries that do not have mRNA technology but already have some biomanufacturing infrastructure and capacity.

WHO will enter into discussions with other interested countries and other mRNA technology recipients will be announced in the coming months.
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