South African Company Finds Formula for Patent-Free Corona Vaccine Faster Than Expected

Faster than expected, South African biotechnology company Afrigen has managed to find a formula for a new and patent-free covid vaccine. Afrigen wants to give non-Western countries more opportunities to protect their populations, although it could take years before the first injections are made.


Since the summer, Afrigen has been focusing on developing its own mRNA vaccine at the request of the World Health Organization. The Afrigen Biologics and Vaccines team has now found a working formula so that the scientists can now take the next research steps, CEO Petro Terblanche confirms.

The WHO invested almost 90 million euros in a kind of knowledge centre in which Afrigen collaborates with the research institute SAMRC and vaccine company Biovac. The mRNA technology must be further distributed to developing countries from that knowledge centre.

As is well known, there is a large vaccine gap today. Pfizer, BioNTech and Moderna have a monopoly on the production of mRNA vaccines against the coronavirus. This ensures that the companies can negotiate contracts from a luxury position, but people from poor areas suffer from that situation. In Africa, for example, barely 10 percent of the population is fully vaccinated.

Afrigen chose to develop a vaccine that closely resembles the product that Moderna brought onto the market last year. The American player announced that he would not make use of his intellectual property right during the pandemic. However, according to Terblanche, this does not mean that her researchers could simply adopt Moderna’s ‘recipe’.

The product still has to go through several test phases in the coming months. The phase 1 study, in which the vaccine is administered to healthy subjects, should start at the end of this year. “In the worst-case scenario, we could then submit a request for approval to the authorities in 36 months,” said Terblanche.

Leave comment