The African Union (AU) has announced the launch of a partnership to manufacture vaccines at five research centres to be built on the continent in the coming 15 years. The continent seeks to be able to manufacture 60 percent of its vaccines by 2040.
To this and Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the African Union Commission has signed a memorandum of understanding to boost African vaccine research and development as well as manufacturing.
According to John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the five centres will be set up over the next 10-15 years. They will be located in the north, south, east, west, and central parts of Africa.
‘Step in the right direction’
Almost all the vaccines used on the African continent are imported, with only one per cent, representing some 12 million doses, manufactured in African countries, according to Africa CDC and the African Union bloc.
“The production of vaccine and access to vaccine is an absolute necessity for our continent,” said African Union head Moussa Faki Mahamat, outlining the need for a “new world health order”.
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A few African countries already have centres producing various vaccines, including Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia.
Welcoming the news AU envoy Raila Odinga said Africa producing its own vaccines in different places is a great step in the right direction.
“Climate Change is causing new and lethal diseases, so we need to act with speed,” tweeted Mr Odinga.
The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) helps run the global coronavirus vaccine-sharing programme Covax with the public-private alliance Gavi and the World Health Organization (WHO).
“Trusted partnership will be critical in advancing the vaccine manufacturing agenda on the continent. The partnership with CEPI symbolises cooperation and collaboration to help respond to infectious disease threats and ensure Africa’s health security,” Dr Nkengasong said on Tuesday at the closing of a two-day virtual meeting.