Nigeria has moved to set up a vaccine manufacturing plant to make Covid-19 jabs.
Speaking to The Bulrushes on Thursday, Zimbabwe’s Professor Arthur Mutambara said: “I am currently in Nigeria, as part of a team setting up vaccine research and development, and a manufacturing plant”.
Professor Mutambara is part of the CoDA Independent Task Team launched on Monday for the development of vaccines and equitable universal access to essential vaccines and vaccinations in Africa.
The former deputy prime minister of Zimbabwe said his involvement was “proof of concept (a national launch pad) for a continental strategy to achieve equitable and universal access to essential vaccines and vaccination across Africa”.
Mutambara, who is robotics and mechatronics professor, said the public health of Africans cannot be left to depend on the benevolence and goodwill of nations external to the continent.
“Health security determines national security. A health insecure Africa has no continental security,” said the professor.
“The journey to vaccine sovereignty and self-sufficiency has just begun.
“The target is not just Covid-19, but future pandemics and other diseases such as Malaria, HIV/AIDS and Sickle cell anemia.”
He said the Covid-19 pandemic was a wake-up call for the continent.
“Never again should Africa be this exposed and vulnerable. Indeed, a crisis is too important an opportunity to waste,” said the professor.
“As Africans, we must seize the moment and collectively take charge of our public health.”
In a related development, the WHO this week said along with its Covax partners they are working with a South African consortium to establish a Covid mRNA vaccine technology transfer hub.
The consortium comprises Biovac, Afrigen Biologics and Vaccines, a network of universities, and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.