PAHO/WHO Technology Transfer Program advances in Argentina to support manufacturing mRNA vaccines

15 Feb 2023
Foto de laboratorio donde se desasrrolla el programa de OPS/OMS de transferencia de tecnología para que Argentina produzca vacunas ARN mensajero

Buenos Aires, 15 February 2023 (PAHO) — A mission of delegates from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the Medicines Patent Pool visited Argentina and met with national health authorities and the biopharmaceutical company Sinergium Biotech to continue advancing the transfer of technology to produce messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines in the country, for regional use.

The meeting on 7 February focused on an evaluation of the progress made by the transfer program and analysis of the possibilities offered by this technology for the development of vaccines against the SARS-CoV-2 virus and other priority pathogens for the Region, as well as biotherapeutic products. The meeting was attended by PAHO representative in Argentina, Eva Jané Llopis; Minister of Health of Argentina, Carla Vizzotti; WHO Senior Technical Officer, Claudia Nannei; and Director of Business Development of Sinergium Biotech, Fernando Lobos, among other officials.

"The need for self-sufficiency in the Region during the pandemic was a wake-up call for all of us," Jané Llopis said, adding that "this is a challenge and PAHO will continue working together with the Ministry of Health and all actors to face any pandemics that may appear, while further investigating the different opportunities that mRNA technology provides, in order to offer them to the entire Region of the Americas."

Jané Llopis highlighted the country's leadership in the Region in health matters and its ability to face this new challenge. She praised the intention of the Argentine manufacturer to "become a pioneer in the production of mRNA vaccines" among the 15 centers chosen in different parts of the world.

Health Minister Vizzotti highlighted the importance of working together with a strategic view and expressed the need to "develop sustainable public policies aimed at promoting the development of vaccines and other biotechnological products, expanding our production capacities for these strategic inputs and contributing to regional self-sufficiency in health."

In the same vein, on behalf of WHO, Nannei explained that in order to promote equitable access to vaccines, the PAHO/WHO initiative aims to establish sustainable capacity for the production of mRNA vaccines in different countries and contribute to collaboration and the exchange of research between countries to expand knowledge about the potential of this technology.

Foto de la representante de OPS en Argentina y de la ministra de Salud de la Nación

Tomás Pippo, regional advisor on Pharmaceutical Policies and Innovation at the Medicines and Health Technologies Unit of PAHO's Department of Health Systems and Services, indicated that "local production is the way to improve access" and that "PAHO works to promote cooperation among Member States and strengthen common policies."

During his speech, representing Sinergium Biotech, Lobos mentioned the value of current collaborations between the different national and international actors, " particularly PAHO, that ensured from the beginning that the project moved forward firmly and quickly”." The manufacturing company director also referred to the importance of selecting priority diseases for the Region and for Argentina, in order to demonstrate that the platform works and achieve a strong impact on health across the Region of the Americas.

The joint visit, held 7-9 February, is part of the global work program coordinated by WHO and the regional activities carried out under the agreement between PAHO and the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development to increase local production capacities and improve equitable access to vaccines in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The mission also included Christopher Chadwick, Cristina Bruno, and Martin Nicholson from WHO; Ike James of the Medicines Patent Pool; María de los Ángeles Cortés, advisor at the PAHO office in Brazil, who participated in the meeting; Sonia Quezada Bolaños, advisor on Health Systems and Services; Manuel Limeres, head of the National Drugs, Food, and Medical Technology Administration (ANMAT); Pascual Fidelio, director of the "Dr. Carlos Malbrán" National Administration of Laboratories and Health Institutes (ANLIS); Ana Lía Allemand, president of the National Public Laboratories Agency (ANLAP); and Vanesa Lowenstein, national director of Studies at the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation, among others.

The visit concluded with a tour of Sinergium Biotech's facilities, followed by a technical meeting on first- and second-generation mRNA vaccines, intellectual property rights, procurement processes, financial and marketing strategy, and next-steps planning.  This activity was also attended by Patricia Cristina Da Costa Neves and Sotiris Missailidis, representatives of the Bio-Manguinhos Institute of Technology in Immunobiologicals of the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz).

Foto de la misión que visitó Argentina y autoridades sanitarias y representantes del laboratorio

More about the technology transfer program

In September 2021, PAHO announced that Sinergium Biotech, in Argentina, and the Institute of Technology in Immunobiologicals of the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Bio-Manguinhos/Fiocruz), in Brazil, were selected for the technology transfer.

Under this international cooperation initiative, experts from both laboratories are working in collaboration with the mRNA technology transfer center established by WHO in South Africa to build local capacities for the development and production of vaccines and other biological products.