News Release

Major Meetings on mRNA Transfer Technology Program


Program meetings began this week for the mRNA Transfer Technology Hub, a center to build capacity in low- and middle-income countries to produce mRNA vaccines, located at Afrigen in Cape Town, South Africa. The World Health Organization is a co-host of the forum.

    Maybarduk is the director of Public Citizen’s access to medicines group, which helps partners worldwide working to make medicine available and affordable for all. 

Maybarduk told the Institute for Public Accuracy: “The U.S. government has supported the technology transfer program in the past; for instance, the Vaccine Research Center at the NIH supported Afrigen, and scientists at a Texas A&M University facility trained several cohorts of scientists [on mRNA technology].” But the government has not yet given “direct financial support” to the program. South Africa, several European nations, Canada and the EU have also provided financial support. “We’re hoping the U.S. will join those nations to respond to the hub’s request” of $100 million. “That’s number one for us,” he added.

The program meeting agenda is very science-heavy, Maybarduk said. “The scientists and the science are leading.”

He added: “All 15 manufacturers are here, and they’re discussing which pathogens they’re planning to target. It’s well beyond Covid. Today we talked about the topic of malaria mRNA vaccines and HIV mRNA vaccines.” Few labs can currently work with mRNA to develop vaccines––but “the hub’s technology transfer is changing that.” Going forward, there will be “at least 15 manufacturers that would be available to contribute to drug manufacturing in LMICs [low- and middle-income countries].” There is now little doubt that there will be mRNA production in countries like Argentina, Tunisia, Serbia, Ukraine and other member countries. “That’s going to happen,” Maybarduk said. The challenge, however, is the sustainability of development and production. 

The hub plans to put both funds and networks in place to help expand manufacturing capacity. Its central feature is technology transfer, meaning that scientific techniques are to be shared with the community.”