Six African countries are to produce mRNA-based vaccines themselves in the future.

This was announced by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the heads of the European and African Unions on Friday at the summit of the two organizations.

This is made possible by a technology transfer in the form of licenses, but not by the release of protected patent rights.

Thomas Gutschker

Political correspondent for the European Union, NATO and the Benelux countries based in Brussels.

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The initiative benefits Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia, and is financially supported by the EU, Germany, France and Belgium.

WHO President Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that more than 80 percent of Africans had not yet received their first vaccination against the corona virus.

The hubs that are now being set up could also produce vaccines against tuberculosis and malaria.

The heads of state of the six countries welcomed the initiative.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa appealed to the vaccine alliances Gavi and COVAX, which support low-income countries to buy vaccines in Africa in the future.

Ramaphosa, who has already accused the EU of “vaccine apartheid”, again urged manufacturers to release their patents as well.

Governments "that really want the whole world to have access to vaccines" should approve it.

That was a central point of contention at the meeting in Brussels, which was also the subject of debate in the final declaration until late at night.

In the final version, there was talk of a "voluntary technology transfer".

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen spoke of "a bridge that we can cross together".

The developers' intellectual property would remain protected, but their profits would be restricted.

By 2040, 60 percent of the vaccines needed in Africa should also be produced there.

Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz also referred to an initiative by the German manufacturer Biontech, which intends to deliver mobile production systems for mRNA vaccines to several African countries.

At the end, Scholz spoke of a “renewed partnership” with Africa.

"Our relationship is of strategic importance for both sides," he said.

A package was agreed to generate investments of 150 billion euros in Africa, in the economy, in the education and health systems.

Concrete projects are now to be negotiated.

For their part, the African states have pledged that they want to curb irregular migration.

This concerns the fight against people smugglers, better border management and "effective improvements in repatriation".

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