Africa Makes Real Its Vaccine Production Agenda

Africa to ramp up vaccine production

EpiVacCorona-N COVID-19 vaccine

A groundbreaking US $45-million vaccine manufacturing initiative has been unveiled in Dakar, Senegal. The Institut Pasteur de Dakar (IPD) and the Mastercard Foundation jointly rolled out a partnership called MADIBA, which stands for Manufacturing in Africa for Disease Immunisation and Building Autonomy.

The launch of this collaboration early in June marks a significant step towards achieving vaccine manufacturing autonomy in Africa.

The multi-year project includes the establishment and development of a world-class workforce to support vaccine manufacturing.

There will be a Centre of Training Excellence to equip talented young people, particularly young women, with specialised skills in various aspects of vaccine research, manufacturing, production, and distribution.

MADIBA’s objective aligns with Sénégal Émergent (Emerging Senegal Plan), a government-initiated development model that aims to achieve the ambitious goal of domestically manufacturing 50 percent of the country’s pharmaceutical products by 2035.

Through the MADIBA project, IPD will develop a specialised curriculum tailored to train talented young African vaccine scientists, with a goal of ensuring 40 percent of the trainees are females.

Graduates of the MADIBA training program will help drive the success of other manufacturing facilities across the continent. As these skilled professionals enter the workforce, they will bring about a multiplier effect, catalyzing the transformation of vaccine manufacturing capabilities in Africa.

Between 9,000 and 14,000 full-time employees will be needed in vaccine manufacturing and research roles across Africa by 2040.
The Dakar facility will also contribute to the African Union’s objective of meeting 60 per cent of the continent’s vaccine needs by 2040.

As a possible blueprint for future vaccine manufacturing facilities across Africa, MADIBA represents a crucial first step towards vaccine self-sufficiency in the region, say industry experts.

The UN Development Programme (UNDP) has linked the lack of vaccine equity to the widening poverty gap, measured by the ratio of how much the mean income of the poor falls below the poverty line.

A UNDP report in March 2022 notes that approximately 2.8 billion people worldwide — mostly in poor countries— were still awaiting their first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, even though over two years had passed since the outbreak of the pandemic and vaccines were in the market.

Data from the Global Dashboard of Vaccine Equity, jointly developed by UNDP, the World Health Organisation (WHO), and the University of Oxford, reveals that vaccine inequity affects poorer countries disproportionally in terms of health, inflicting lasting socio-economic consequences.

Most of the vulnerable countries are in sub-Saharan Africa, with countries like Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Chad facing significant challenges, as less than one percent of the populations are fully vaccinated.

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Africa fell victim to vaccine nationalism, characterized by the tendency of rich countries to prioritize their access to vaccines or hoard key inputs and intellectual rights for vaccine production.

This unfair practice exacerbated already existing disparities in vaccine distribution, leaving many countries in Africa with limited access to life-saving vaccines and hindering their efforts to effectively combat the pandemic.

The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in February 2021 called vaccine equity “the biggest moral test before the global community.”
But things are now looking up for Africa.

Before the establishment of MADIBA, in February the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) launched the Regional Capability and Capacity Centre Network (RCCCN), with a primary focus on talent development for manufacturing and research. The Institut Pasteur de Dakar (IPD) serves as RCCCN’s inaugural centre.

According to Dr. Jean Kaseya, Director General of Africa CDC, “Between 9,000 and 14,000 full-time employees will be needed in vaccine manufacturing and research roles across Africa by 2040.”

We aim to train a workforce for MADIBA and other African vaccine manufacturers, develop partnerships with African universities and promote science education among young students.

“Presently, less than one percent of vaccines administered on the continent are manufactured locally. This places a great financial burden on our health systems and reduces the ability to respond to pandemics and other health crises,” he lamented.

“The partnership between Mastercard Foundation and IPD will enhance human capital development for biomanufacturing in Africa,” says Amadou Sall, the CEO of IPD.

Mr. Sall adds that, “We aim to train a workforce for MADIBA and other African vaccine manufacturers, develop partnerships with African universities and promote science education among young students.”

Reeta Roy, the President and CEO of the Mastercard Foundation, says the partnership could ensure “Africa’s long-term health security by fostering vaccine manufacturing expertise and a skilled workforce on the continent. In the process, our collaboration will also benefit the livelihoods of young people in Africa.”

Last year’s session of the Africa Investment Forum (AIF), an investment marketplace, brought renewed hope for research and vaccine manufacturing in Africa.
Currently, AIF is directing investments towards projects that address the continent’s most pressing healthcare challenges, including inadequate healthcare infrastructure, strengthening the pharmaceutical industry, and bolstering vaccine manufacturing capabilities.

Source : Douglas Okwatch

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