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South Africa creates copy of Moderna Covid-19 vaccine

A production scientist works with samples during a visit by representatives of the Medicines Patent Pool, France and other European Union member states, at the Afrigen Biologics' site in Cape Town, South Africa, February 3, 2022. REUTERS/Shelley Christians

Scientists in South Africa have successfully made a copy of the Moderna Covid vaccine, in a game-changing breakthrough that could end vaccine scarcity in developing countries.

The development was announced by Afrigen Biologics and Vaccines, a biotechnology company based in Cape Town.

“The aim is therefore to have a very, very, superefficient and safe drug substance, but that the drug product will have a different stability and more suitable to be distributed at temperatures which is feasible and possible for Africa,” said Petro Terblanche, the managing director of Afrigen.

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The company is working on cloning the vaccine as a part of the WHO’s effort to make technology and treatments related to Covid more widely available around the world.

Moderna’s jab is made with mRNA technology.

It said it hoped to start clinical trials later this year.

Moderna’s shot was chosen since the company said it would not enforce its patent restrictions during the pandemic.

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Africa is the least vaccinated continent in the world, with countries depending on donations from richer nations.

This has prompted calls for Covid vaccines to be made on the continent, to end what activists have termed as vaccine apartheid.

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