The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is allocating another $20 million (about 19 million euros) to further develop vaccine technology for the Walloon biotechnology company Univercells. The charity made the announcement in a press release on Monday.
The funds should be used to further deploy Univercells’ mRNA technology in low- and middle-income countries.
Univercells has developed an automated laboratory for RNA production, removing some major bottlenecks such as scale and huge investment. This would allow poor countries to produce vaccines themselves faster and cheaper.
In addition to the $20 million for Univercells, another $10 million will also be allocated to vaccine factories in Senegal (Institut Pasteur de Dakar) and South Africa (Biovac) to purchase technology.
“Developing new vaccines is expensive, requires a lot of raw materials and is largely concentrated in rich countries,” the press release quoted José Castillo, co-founder of Univercells, as saying. “We are excited to partner with IPD and Biovac to expand our technology in Senegal and South Africa to enhance access to new mRNA vaccines.”
Univercells has also previously received other donations from the Gates Foundation.
mRNA vaccines have achieved a major boom during the Corona pandemic. The aim is to scale up this mRNA technology, among others, to combat tuberculosis, malaria and Lassa fever.
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