Updates on vaccines, energy and climate change

New South African technology transfer center to replicate Moderna vaccine

A technology transfer center in South Africa established in June aims to replicate, with Moderna’s help, the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, according to a senior official at the World Health Organization. Moderna said in October 2020 that it will not apply for patents on its vaccine during the pandemic, but talks between the technology transfer center and Moderna over the disclosure of the formula and manufacturing process have yet to made significant progress. Whether or not the hub can count on Moderna for help, the hub still has to undertake the required clinical trials, meaning it wouldn’t be able to distribute vaccines until the second half of 2022.

This new effort will complement the current production of mRNA vaccines in South Africa. In July, Pfizer-BioNTech reached an agreement with South African pharmaceutical company Biovac to produce 100 million doses per year. However, the deal does not give knowledge of the formula behind the vaccine, as the deal is only to ‘fill and finish’ which means Biovac will put the solution into vials and pack them for shipping. .

The expansion of vaccine production is an urgent problem around the world, and Africa is no exception: according to the Africa CDC, only 3.3% of the continent is currently vaccinated against COVID-19 due to problems of ‘access, cost and logistics, among other difficulties. .

To learn more about Africa’s efforts to boost vaccine production and access, read: “Africa must produce its own vaccines”. Also consider listening to the Honorable Dr Michel Sidibé, African Special Envoy for the African Medicines Agency of the African Union and Dr Agnes Binagwaho, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Global Health Equity, share their thoughts. on the fight against vaccine inequity during the recent AGI Event, “Accelerating vaccinations against COVID-19 in Africa. ”

South Africa is looking for international investment to move away from coal; DRC tries to renegotiate 2008 minerals-for-infrastructure contract with China

On Thursday, September 16, the South African Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries announced that it would seek international cooperation to facilitate and finance the country’s energy transition away from coal, which generates more than 80% of its electricity. First, the British envoy to COP26, John Murton, announced an upcoming visit to South Africa before the COP26 conference in Glasgow. The scheduled meeting follows a proposal by the national electricity company and Africa’s largest emissions source, Eskom, to raise $ 10 billion to replace most of their coal-fired power plants with energy-efficient infrastructure. renewable energy by 2050. However, some South African government officials fear the transition away from coal, which supports more than 90,000 jobs in the country, will cause significant economic disruption. Supporters of the plan suggest that investing in decarbonizing South Africa’s power infrastructure has a far greater impact than similar efforts in Europe: according to energy expert Clyde Mallinson, director of Virtual Energy and Power (VEP), “For every kilowatt hour of electricity you get from Africa, you get four or five times more carbon reduction than in Europe.

In related news, on September 11, President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) Felix Tshisekedi proposed that the country revise its $ 9 billion mining contract for minerals for infrastructure, which he has requested. signed with China in 2008. In the announcement, Tshisekedi criticized the contract, which was signed by former President Joseph Kabila, calling such agreements “operating contracts … [that keep the rich] get richer while our people remain poor.

Sudan and Kenya suffer from floods and droughts

According to a statement made on Wednesday by the Kenya National Drought Management Authority (NDMA), 2.1 million people in 23 counties in the north and coast of Kenya will be in urgent need of food assistance during the six months as droughts continue to threaten their livelihoods. In addition, on September 8, President Kenyatta officially declared droughts a national disaster. In July, the Kenyan government, together with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), established a drought response plan, which states that a total of 9.4 billion Kenyan shillings will be needed to support food and safety nets as well as drought food non-interventions.

As Kenya battles droughts, Sudan is currently experiencing flash floods that have reportedly affected more than 88,000 people in 13 of its 18 states since July. According to a report by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), more than 12,700 homes were damaged and 4,800 homes destroyed. The latest floods come a year after flooding in East Africa affected nearly six million people, including 1.5 million internally displaced people. Sudan, according to the BBC, was one of the worst affected countries with 860,000 people whose homes were damaged or destroyed.

As the region grapples with natural disasters, the World Bank released the Groundswell 2021 report.

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