WHO reviewing Vietnam proposal to produce mRNA COVID-19 vaccines

HANOI, May 12 (Reuters) - The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday it was reviewing a proposal by an unidentified vaccine manufacturer in Vietnam to become an mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine technology hub in the Southeast Asian country.

MRNA vaccines, like that developed jointly by BionTech (22UAy.DE) and Pfizer (PFE.N), prompt the human body to make a protein that is part of the virus, triggering an immune response.

"A vaccine manufacturer in Vietnam has already expressed its interest to become a mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine technology transfer hub," Kidong Park, the WHO representative in Vietnam, said in an emailed statement to Reuters.

The proposal was being reviewed by the WHO, said Park, who added that the organisation expects Vietnam to also apply for "large scale manufacturing" of an mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine.

Park did not say which vaccine manufacturer had expressed interest in the plans.

On Tuesday, Vietnamese state media said the country was seeking the transfer of the technology to domestically manufacture COVID-19 vaccines, as officials warned of supply issues until the end of the year. read more

The WHO in April said it was seeking to expand the capacity of low and middle-income countries to produce and scale up the manufacturing of vaccines to help bring the pandemic under control.

"If Vietnam will host a mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine technology transfer hub, it will contribute to mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine production in Vietnam as well as in the region," Park told Reuters.

Reporting by James Pearson; Editing by Martin Petty

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.