Continues call for urgent redistribution of surplus vaccine doses
The Co-Chairs of the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response are welcoming the announcement by American, French, and German development finance institutions and the International Finance Corporation of the World Bank Group for support to strengthen vaccine and pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity in Africa.
Currently, there is a major gap between vaccine availability and needs on the continent, with under two per cent of the population in most African countries having received a single dose while high-income countries are approaching fifty per cent coverage and more.
The announcement was made 28 May 2021 by the finance institutions. The same day the importance of regional manufacturing was underscored by French President Emmanuel Macron who said “Africa requires 20% of all vaccines, but only produces 1% of the current vaccines globally. This situation is neither fair nor sustainable. We must build stronger production capabilities. This is the meaning of the initiative on the manufacturing of vaccines we are launching”.
The plans are in line with the Independent Panel’s recommendations to establish both financing and regional capacities for manufacturing vaccines and other pandemic control tools.
“Our Panel recommended that vaccines and other pandemic medical tools should be manufactured close to where they are needed,” said Co-Chair HE Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. “COVID-19 has underscored that when regional production is limited, low- and middle- income countries are left scrambling for supplies and are the last in the vaccine queue. This announcement is an important step towards repairing that deadly gap. We look forward to the day this breakthrough will result in COVID-19 vaccine doses in people’s arms.”
Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean require hundreds of millions of doses of vaccines now, and billions of doses for the future. PAHO recently reported that only three per cent of the Latin American and Caribbean regional population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19; and that less than four per cent of medical products used during the pandemic have come from the region.
The Independent Panel Co-Chairs stressed that it is critical to begin the process of boosting manufacturing capacity now, and that alongside that there needs to be more sharing of the currently available vaccine doses.
“Our Panel has stressed that vaccine doses are urgently needed right now in low- and middle-income countries”, said Co-Chair the Rt. Hon. Helen Clark. “We have recommended that high-income countries with a vaccine pipeline adequate for their own coverage should commit to providing one billion doses to the 92 countries of the GAVI COVAX Advance Market Commitment by September. So far only a small fraction of that amount has been pledged by high-income countries.”
The Independent Panel’s report, COVID-19: Make it the Last Pandemic, also recommends action to scale up voluntary licensing and knowledge and technology transfer to enable much wider manufacturing of vaccines. The report said that if that could not be achieved by mid-August, then a waiver of intellectual property rights under the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights should come into force immediately.