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The New York Times: Vaccines for Africa

September 21, 2021

Andrey Zarur, CEO of GreenLight Biosciences, speaks to The New York Times about how the world can unlock vaccines for Africa.

Credit: Claire Merchlinsky/The New York Times

Andrey Zarur, CEO of GreenLight Biosciences, speaks to The New York Times about how the world can unlock vaccines for Africa and other lower-income countries around the world. Extracts are below:

“What most of the established players really want is to keep control of their profits,” said Andrey Zarur, the C.E.O. of GreenLight Biosciences, a biotech company that’s developing mRNA technology. “They say, ‘We’ll hold on to the technology, but we promise we’ll be good citizens and make sure you get what you need.’ Africa has heard this a million times before, and they’re sick of it, because they know it never works out that way.”

Mr. Zarur said that GreenLight Biosciences is planning to launch clinical trials for its mRNA vaccine in Africa next year. The company is planning to build a factory in South Africa that he said would be “controlled by local or regional needs and not the whims of the Western world.” What he and other prospective vaccine makers need most from U.S. officials is clarity, he said. Regulatory hurdles are myriad for a new vaccine, and the logistics of transport and distribution will have to be worked out with scores of nations.

“The previous administration did a hell of a job making it so that the United States would get a billion shots,” Mr. Zarur told me recently. “But the United States is supposed to stand for something bigger than just taking care of its own citizens.”


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