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WHO and world leaders: How we’re building better, more equitable vaccine systems

We realize another pandemic outbreak is really a question of when, not if. Time is of the essence to intensify collaboration and boost local manufacturing.

Paul Kagame, Emmanuel Macron, Cyril Ramaphosa, Macky Sall, Olaf Scholz and Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus| Opinion contributors


Inequity has plagued the responses to harmful pathogens. Take COVID-19: An unprecedented 12.45 billion vaccine doses have already been administered worldwide within the last 18 months, helping many countries turn the tide on the pandemic. Yet three-quarters ofpeople in Africa haven’t received one dose. Provided that this gap exists, we cant protect the planet against new virus variants and end the acute stage of the pandemic.

Because of groundbreaking innovation, effective vaccines were developed in record time. However,first, a concentration of vaccine along with other health technology production was observed in several, mostly rich, countries. Poorer nations finished up behind the queue.The problem has since changed, with global supply exceeding global demand.

The international community, led through the ACT-Accelerator and its own COVAX facility, hasplayed an essential role, confirming that the reaction to scourges like COVID-19 requires ample preparedness and new means of employed in order to safeguard public health.

Now, the central challenges are how exactly to make sure that vaccines remain effective, raise the capacities of national public health systems to manage doses and increase vaccine uptake, and counter the pervasive winds of misinformation that fan vaccine hesitancy.

COVID lesson: Boost local vaccine production

A clear lesson of the pandemic is that people must expand the neighborhood and regional production of vaccines along with other essential health products in low- and middle-income countries. This can enable both immediate access to vaccinesas well because the development of local ecosystems of vaccine production. It’ll make supply in case of another crisis more reliable and much more equitable, so long as global supply chains aren’t interrupted.

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THE PLANET Health Organization (WHO), the African Union, europe, the governments of South Africa, Rwanda, Senegal, Germany and France, and partners, will work to greatly help industry and partners scale up local vaccine production and improve global and regional collaboration to avoid and react to future pandemics. Investing collectively to make sure all parts of the planet have state-of-the-art production infrastructure, trained personnel and institutional and regulatory arrangements is really a valuable asset for the common health security.

WHO issupporting amultilateral effort to generate and spread mRNA technology in developing countries.

This past year, WHO, South Africa and the Medicines Patent Pool established a technology transfer hub for mRNA vaccines in Cape Town, supported by EU, France, Germany along with other local and international partners. The hubs goal would be to spread this technology to developing countries by training and licensing manufacturers to create their very own vaccines for national and regional use.

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With donor support, the hub has already been producing results:

Scientists have designed a fresh mRNA vaccine predicated on publicly available information.

Local manufacturers from Africa, Latin America, Asia and Europe have already been selected to get the technology. Partners at the Medicines Patent Pool will be ready to help license technologies.

A fresh initiative of the African Development Bank, the African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation, could also contribute.

Elements of the private sector may also be upgrading. The recent groundbreaking ceremony in Rwanda of the initial mRNA production facility in Africa, built by the German company BioNTech, is another exemplory case of the efforts by African countries to utilize partners to are more resilient when confronted with pandemics. Similar facilities are planned in Senegal, collaborating with Ghana for fill-and-finish services.

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How toensurevaccine adaptability

The mRNA technology isn’t just for fighting COVID-19. We’re hopeful it could be adapted to tackle other diseases, such as for example HIV, tuberculosis, malaria and leishmaniasis, putting countries in the drivers seat to create the tools necessary to meet their health needs.

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At a recently available summit in theRwanda capital of Kigali, BioNTech focused on completing its malaria vaccine programand manufacture any licensed product in Africa. The WHO mRNA hub programin South Africa already has its eyes on creating a broad suite of vaccines along with other products to tackle disease threats, such as for example insulin to take care of diabetes, cancer medicines and, potentially, vaccines for other priority diseases.

Creating a vaccine production facility is hard, but ensuring itssustainability is even harder:

There’s the necessity to strengthen workforce capacity by giving dedicated training for staff at these facilities. Who’s addressing this gap by way of a biomanufacturing training hub in South Korea, operating beneath the framework of the WHO Academy, located in Lyon, France, to greatly help developing countries produce not only vaccinesbut also insulin, monoclonal antibodiesand cancer treatments. Rwanda has launched the AfricaBiomanufacturing Institute, a forward thinking structure combining industry training providers and universities to teach the neighborhood workforce.

Producing health products requires strong regulatory capacities to make sure quality standards and approve final products. WHO and partners are buying strengthening regulatory bodies across Africa and beyond. The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the African Union Development Agency have already been dealing with regulators on the continent, and in high-income countries, to improve their capacity. And the African Medicines Agency, to be headquartered in Rwanda, can be Africas continental medicines regulator. Stronger regulatory agencies in developing countries may also enhance confidence in locally produced products, counter misinformation and lessenunsafe counterfeit medicines.

New production facilities will rely heavily on a sustainable, and competitive, market environment where suppliers of vaccines along with other new pharmaceutical products decide to purchase these lifesaving tools. Market-shaping strategies at regional and continental level, as reported by the Partnership for African Vaccine Manufacturing, can ensure the sustainability of ongoing efforts, with leading market-shaping agencies and partners, such as for example Unitaid,standing prepared to support. Leaders of the Band of Sevenmajor industrial nations also have taken up this problem and asked relevant international actors to focus on a joint market-shaping strategy.

At the recent World Health Assembly, there is consensus that building strong and sustainable manufacturing capacity in developing countries is vital for a safer world.

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Finding your way through another outbreak

WHO member states also discussed the necessity for a fresh pandemic accord, because an interconnected world requires globally agreed norms and mechanisms to make sure strong coordination during times of acute health crisis.

And critically, governments recognized that additional funding is urgently necessary for making essential investments in pandemic preparedness and response capacities in countries, regions and globally. In this regard, we welcome the newly established financial intermediary fund for Pandemic Prevention, Preparednessand Response, housed at the planet Bank,with WHO playing the central technical leadership role.

We realize another outbreak is really a question of when, not if. Time is of the essence to intensify collaboration and boost local manufacturing and build confidence in locally made products, in order that we have been better prepared the next time.

Paul Kagame is president of Rwanda. Emmanuel Macron is president of France. Cyril Ramaphosa is president ofSouth Africa. Macky Sall is president of Senegal.Olaf Scholz is chancellor of Germany. Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is director-general of the planet Health Organization.

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