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Africa CDC wants local vaccine manufacturing

/ 08:07 PM July 16, 2020

In this Friday, June 19, 2020, a woman wearing a face mask passes a coronavirus billboard carrying a message in a bid to prevent the spread of the virus. (AP File Photo/Themba Hadebe/File)

JOHANNESBURG — As the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic crashes across Africa, the head of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the intellectual property from any effective vaccine should be made available for local manufacturing and swifter distribution.

John Nkengasong also told reporters that Africa’s 1.3 billion people have “all kinds of differences in genetic makeup, so we want to be sure that we are participating fully” in vaccine trials.

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Africa has had more than 644,000 confirmed virus cases, nearly half in South Africa alone.

Concerns are widespread that any successful vaccine will be snapped up by richer countries and that Africa will be last in line, an echo of the time when it took years for affordable HIV drugs to become available.

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The Africa CDC chief said the continent has more than 80 potential clinical trial sites with the ability to enroll participants and monitor them carefully. He also warned that “we are in for a long, long journey” in this pandemic.

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