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DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — A $40 million investment will help several African manufacturers produce new messenger RNA vaccines on the continent where people were last in line to receive jabs during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced Monday.

While it could still take at least three more years before any of the vaccines are approved and, on the market, the foundation said that its mRNA investment marks an important step forward in improving vaccine equity.

“Whether it’s for local diseases in Africa like Rift Valley (fever) or for global diseases like TB, mRNA looks like a very promising approach,” Bill Gates told The Associated Press on Sunday after visiting one of the facilities involved, the Institut Pasteur in Dakar, Senegal. “And so it allows us to bring in lots of African capabilities to work on these vaccines, and then this can be scaled up.”

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