WHO Establishes Global Biomanufacturing Training Hub in Republic of Korea

In a goal to boost local pharmaceutical production, the World Health Organization has established a global manufacturing training hub in the Republic of Korea through which Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan, Serbia, and Vietnam will receive mRNA technology.

The World Health Organization (WHO), the Republic of Korea, and the WHO Academy announced on Feb. 23, 2022 that a global biomanufacturing training hub has been established in the Republic of Korea that will serve all low- and middle-income countries looking to produce biologicals, such as vaccines, insulin, monoclonal antibodies, and cancer treatments. This move follows a previous announcement that a global messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine technology transfer hub was successfully established in South Africa (1).

Under the project, the Government of the Republic of Korea has offered a large facility outside Seoul that already carries out biomanufacturing training for companies based in the country. This facility will now expand its operations to accommodate trainees from other countries. The Seoul facility will provide technical and hands-on training on operational and good manufacturing practice requirements; it will complement specific trainings developed by the mRNA vaccine technology transfer hub in South Africa. In addition, the WHO Academy will work with the Korean Ministry of Health and Welfare to develop a comprehensive curriculum on general biomanufacturing.

Meanwhile, the WHO is intensifying regulatory system strengthening through its global benchmarking tool (GBT), which is an instrument that assesses regulatory authorities’ maturity level. The GBT will serve as the main parameter for the WHO to include national regulators in the WHO-listed Authorities list, according to press release. Furthermore, the WHO aims to build a network of regional centers of excellence to act as advisers and guides for countries with weaker regulatory systems.

Five countries will also receive support from the global mRNA hub in South Africa: Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan, Serbia, and Vietnam. A group of experts have vetted these five countries, which have proved that they have the capacity to absorb the technology and, with targeted training, move to production stages relatively quickly.

“One of the key barriers to successful technology transfer in low- and middle-income countries is the lack of a skilled workforce and weak regulatory systems,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, in the press release. “Building those skills will ensure that they can manufacture the health products they need at a good quality standard so that they no longer have to wait at the end of the queue.”

The WHO will enter into discussions with other interested countries, and other mRNA technology recipients will be announced in the coming months.

Reference

1. WHO, “South Africa’s mRNA Hub Progress is Foundation for Self-Reliance,” Press Release, Feb. 11, 2022.

Source: World Health Organization