An MSF staff administrates the vaccine to a homeless person. Photograph by Albert Masias
Technical brief |

Sharing mRNA vaccine technologies to save lives

Report Cover
Photograph by Albert Masias

The COVID-19 pandemic race to develop new vaccines has brought with it the introduction of revolutionary new technology: mRNA-based vaccines. Where available, mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines are one type of new tool that can save lives and slow transmission, but too many people are being left behind waiting for access.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and many countries are already considering how to scale up mRNA and other vaccine manufacturing with existing vaccine manufacturers (e.g., BioVac and Institut Pasteur Dakar) through initiatives like the WHO COVID-19 mRNA Vaccine Technology Transfer Hub. In addition to existing vaccine manufacturers, quality-assured injectable medicines manufacturers can be another potentially important source to increase mRNA vaccine production capacity, including for vaccine active pharmaceutical ingredients. For example, establishing mRNA vaccine production at an existing manufacturing site in at least one African country could create an annual production capacity of up to 100 million COVID-19 vaccine doses within 10 months in one of the regions most affected by vaccine shortages. Manufacturers, governments and WHO should work to ensure the Hub’s success and utilise the additional production capacity injectable medicines manufacturers could offer to help deliver doses of mRNA vaccines still urgently needed to help protect millions of people from COVID-19.

A new analysis, published in December 2021, in collaboration with Achal Prabhala, coordinator of the AccessIBSA project, identified more than 100 manufacturers across Asia, Africa and Latin America with the technical requirements and quality standards to manufacture mRNA vaccines.