Covid-19: Africa cannot rely solely on import of vaccines – WHO

Covid-19: Africa cannot rely solely on import of vaccines - WHO

The Director-General of the World Health Organisation, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has stated that Africa cannot keep relying on imported vaccines and needs to develop the capacity to manufacture its own vaccines to prepare for the next pandemic.

The WHO boss disclosed this at the UBA Africa Day event on Tuesday themed: “Africa to the world” on Tuesday, May 25th, 2021.

What Dr. Tedros said about African vaccine manufacturing

“Although Africa has not yet seen the same scale of devastation from the pandemic, the impact has been profound for lives, livelihood, systems, and economies.

The poor are vulnerable and hit hardest. Africa has not escaped and we can’t let down our guard because what’s happening now in many parts of the world, can also happen in our continent,

With the support of COVAX, 47 countries have started vaccinating, however, the volume is nowhere enough. So far, Africa has administered over 25 million doses, or 1.5% of the global total. This is very tragic.

WTO is working day in and day out to bring the equitable distribution of vaccine doses. But it is clear, Africa cannot rely solely on import of vaccines from the rest of the world. We must build out capacity, not only for Covid, but other vaccines and medical products,” Dr Tedros said.

Tedros urged for the cooperation of private and public networks, citing that the WTO is working with the African Union to establish the African Medicines Agency, ensuring financial and technical support to establish the agency.

He said, “And to build a strong regulatory institution for Africa, the pandemic has demonstrated that health is not a luxury item, or simply an outcome of development, it’s a human right.”

On medium and long term production of vaccines

Dr. Tedros urges that Africa should use all options available, starting from voluntary licensing up to IP waiver, to make sure there is enough production of vaccines, to increase coverage in all countries.

“We need to push around the same line, and we need all African countries to support this initiative.

On the production, for the medium and long term, its important that we start practical steps for local production. The EU is ready to support, and we need to speed up initiatives to increase medium and long term production in the pandemic,” he said.

What you should know

  • The Nigerian Medical Association urged the FG earlier this month to take the Local Vaccines Production (LVP) pipeline seriously, citing the FG’s Joint Venture deal with May and Baker Plc should be prioritised to ensure the success of Biovaccines Nigeria Ltd.
  • WTO DG, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala also stated that Nigeria should start looking at establishing the capacity for manufacturing vaccines locally.
  • Nairametrics reported last month that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) stated that a continued lack of access to vaccines will see Africa’s projected growth at 3.4% compared to the rest of the world at 6%.
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