GreenLight Biosciences has collaborated with non-profit scientific research organisation International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) for a Covid-19 vaccine trial in Africa.

Through this collaboration, the company will be able to advance its messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine candidate for Covid-19.

It also aims to expand and speed up access to mRNA vaccines to prevent Covid-19, specifically for use in low-income countries across the world.

For the Phase I clinical trial, the company will provide its Covid-19 vaccine candidate. The trial is planned to begin in the first quarter of next year.

GreenLight will also prepare for large-scale manufacturing of the vaccine.

GreenLight CEO Andrey Zarur said: “There is an urgent need to develop vaccines in Africa, for Africa. Our vaccine trial, in partnership with IAVI, will open the way to make vaccines that are available to everybody, not just citizens of rich countries.

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“If we don’t vaccinate the world quickly, then the ongoing emergence of new variants could compromise the tremendous progress made so far in the Covid-19 response.”

Once research sites and clinical research partners in Africa are finalised, the trial is expected to begin after receiving ethical and regulatory approvals.

GreenLight and IAVI aim to ensure the effectiveness and suitability of the vaccine candidate for African populations by engaging the country’s clinical investigators and communities previously affected by Covid-19.

IAVI president and CEO Mark Feinberg said: “Only about 6% of people in low-income countries have been vaccinated against Covid-19. This situation leaves hundreds of millions of people vulnerable to severe disease and could lead to the continued emergence of more dangerous viral variants.

“It is crucial for vaccine development to focus on overcoming inequities in access to SARS-CoV-2 vaccines and address the still unmet needs of low- and middle-income countries, which have mainly had to rely on imported vaccines developed elsewhere when they are available at all.”

In September, Gritstone dosed the first subject in a Phase I clinical trial to assess the ability of its self-amplifying mRNA (SAM) vaccine for Covid-19.