Finding Solutions For COVID Vaccine Distribution In Africa’s ‘Last Mile’
More COVID-19 vaccines are beginning to flow into Africa, as coordination between partner organizations and African governmental agencies improves. However, gaps remain in cold chain storage, information flow on the ground is lagging and vaccine hesitancy persists. Also, pandemic-related economic depression in some African countries is jeopardizing procurement and access to vaccines.
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South African researchers make own version of mRNA COVID-19 vaccine that uses “recipes” available in the public domain but one that is eventually expected to be “second generation” and can be more applicable to use in low- and middle-income countries. The initiative, under the wider WHO-backed mRNA vaccine technology hub, doesn’t see Moderna or BioNTech intellectual property as being a barrier.
Less than 4% of the population in Africa has been immunized against COVID-19 and in some quarters the finger of blame has been pointed at the pharma industry. Believing the situation requires a long-term strategy, Moderna is going to build a plant on the continent with the goal of producing up to 500 million doses of vaccines each year.
From pre-med to pharma lab rat to deputy director of operations at the FDA, Khushboo Sharma, a 2021 In Vivo Rising Leader and current VP of science and regulatory affairs at BIO, has spent her career pursuing a goal she says the FDA and biopharma industry have in common: ensuring that innovative drugs get to patients.