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Vaccine production hubs to be set up in Rwanda and 3 other African countries

The Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has indicated that they are considering setting up vaccine production hubs in four African countries.

The four countries are South Africa, Senegal, Rwanda and Nigeria.

She said that the continent is working with the European Union and other partners to help create regional vaccine manufacturing hubs in South Africa, Senegal and Rwanda.

Okonjo-Iweala said the creation of a vaccine production hub in Nigeria is under consideration.

During a virtual meeting, Okonjo-Iweala said, “We have now seen that over-centralization of vaccine production capacity is incompatible with equitable access in a crisis situation.”

“Regional production hubs, in tandem with open supply chains, offer a more promising path to preparedness for future health crisis,” she added.

The Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has said that trader barriers related to medical supplies used for Covid-19 are increasing.

This announcement is coming after the WTO boss said pandemic-related trade barriers are going up.

In a virtual UN forum, the WTO Director-General said “the trend is going in the wrong direction,” referring to barriers on goods trade related to the pandemic.

“We need to bring those restrictions down so we can move…medical goods and supplies and vaccines (faster).”

She revealed that the number of trade restrictions was 109 at the start of the pandemic early last year. The number of restrictions which later reduced to 51, have since risen to 53.

She said it was important for all WTO members to reach a deal by July on improving access to Covid-19 vaccines. This is coming after several months of talks on waiving drug firms’ intellectual property rights.

Even though most developing countries are in support of the waiver, several wealthy countries strongly opposed it. The developed countries argue that the waiver will not allow for research that saw that Covid-19 vaccines were produced quickly.

Okonjo-Iweala called on member states to drop the trade barriers as the WTO puts more effort to reach a deal on vaccine-sharing.

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