Initiative to strengthen vaccine research and development in Africa

Roselyne Sachiti |  2 years ago | international

Covid-19 has challenged the world to think broader on how to be better prepared for future pandemics to avoid similar devastation on economies, and all social aspects of life.

Africa, too, is not just sitting and watching as the dialogue on vaccine development on the continent to ensure equitable distribution heats up.

Questions are being asked everyday, what can African do to be better prepared for future pandemics?

With vaccine nationalisation starving off most African countries and other developing countries globally, home grown solutions are needed to ensure equity if herd immunity is to be achieved.

To address this, the Coalition for Dialogue on Africa (CoDA) has started a new initiative to strengthen vaccine research and development in Africa.

Speaking to journalists at a media briefing here today, ahead of the launch of the CoDA Independent Task Team on Equitable and Universal Access to Vaccines and Vaccination in Africa on Monday, Executive Director of CoDA, Ms Souad Aden Osman, said there is need for Africa to localise its solutions.

“We have been hit by an unprecedented scourge, Covid- 19, which has crippled the world, but we are coming out as if we were the worst unprepared continent,” she pointed out.

The task team will be launched at Igbinedion University Teaching Hospital, Okada, Nigeria.

She said the initiative, will support the African Union in its efforts to enable participation of the African private sector, the civil society and other stakeholders in vaccine research and development using established African Union policy instruments.

“We are recognising fully that the international community does not have to take responsibility of what is happening on the African continent, and we cannot make everything a charity case. We cannot make everything that is important to us, what cripples our economies,” said Ms Aden Osman.

President of the Pan African Manufacturers Association an Executive director at Dangote Group, Mr Mansur Ahmen, said while other regions have established their own vaccines and able to take care of themselves, Africa has to depend on supply of these vaccines even for the most basic inputs

“In 2020 our pharmaceutical sector was almost shut down because we could not get basic pharmaceutical ingredients that we need to make even the most basic drugs. Some countries stopped exporting materials to us,” he said.

He added that with the Covid-19 pandemic, the race for vaccines started and Africa still has to depend for supply.

“We all, know that even some of those countries in Africa that have managed to buy the vaccines are not getting them because the countries that are manufacturing the vaccines want to use what they have first’. America has vaccinated almost 300 million people, China almost 1 billion, Europe most of their citizens but in Africa we are talking about less than 2 percent,” he said.

Some high-level guests from different parts of Africa, journalists and other professionals in creating awareness for vaccines production in Africa are expected to be part of the event.

Some of the dignitaries to attend include H.E. Olusegun Obasanjo, Former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria who is gthe Chair of the CoDA Board of Directors; Dr Monique

Nsanzabaganwa, Deputy Chairperson of African Union Commission; Professor Benedict Oramah, President and Chairman, Board of Trustees, Afreximbank & Chairman, Board of Trustees for the African Union COVID-19 Response Fund; Dr Osagie Ehanire, Minister of Health of Nigeria; Chief Lucky Igbinedion, Former Governor of Edo State, and Deputy Chancellor & Deputy Chairman, Board of Regents, Igbinedion University, Okada; and Godwin Obaseki, Governor of Edo State, Nigeria.

Back in April 2021, CoDA also convened a meeting on equitable access to vaccines and vaccination in Africa involving scientists, researchers, community and religious leaders, media, civil society, youth, and the private sector. Participants in the dialogue emphasisAaed the need for investments by the African private sector in research, manufacturing and distribution of essential vaccines, to increase access across the continent.

Following the dialogue, CoDA established an independent task team of senior African and non-African experts, in partnership with Igbinedion University Teaching Hospital, that will facilitate implementation of the initiative.