Gavi commits to changing vaccine supply to support new African manufacturers

Africa only produces 1% of the vaccines it uses.

Gavi, the global vaccine alliance, is adapting its vaccine supply approach to support vaccine manufacturing in Africa.

In a to plan published on Thursday, Gavi pledged to place “greater value on the benefits of diversification for security of supply, with a focus on Africa”.

The 10-point plan, developed in consultation with the African Union and other key partners, also assigns responsibilities to other key players – G7 development ministers, African countries, international partners, including development financial institutions and the private sector – to support sustainable African manufacturing. ability.

However, Gavi will lead and coordinate the plan, given its enormous influence as the world’s largest purchaser of vaccines.

“For 22 years, as the world’s largest purchaser of vaccines, Gavi has worked closely with African countries and manufacturers to favorably shape the market for essential routine and epidemic vaccines,” said the CEO of Gavi. Gavi, Dr. Seth Berkley.

“Gavi is committed to contributing to the vision of the AU. The plan released today provides a pathway to ensure vaccine supply security for Africa during pandemics and expand access to other lifesaving vaccines at sustainable and affordable prices.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed Africa’s vulnerability as the entire continent has been unable to get vaccinated for months as rich countries have purchased all the doses manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna and India has stopped the export of generic vaccines manufactured by the Serum Institute of India destined for the mainland.

Stung by the experience of COVID-19, the AU has set itself the target of producing and supplying over 60% of its vaccine doses on the continent by 2040 – it currently supplies 1%.

Although Africa consumes vaccines valued at over $1 billion each year, the cost of a large portion of these vaccines is borne by Gavi, UNICEF and donors.

At present, Gavi chooses its vaccine suppliers based on price and “does not routinely allow for higher prices in the name of geographic diversity and security of supply,” he said. he acknowledged.

“Further adjustments to how Gavi assesses products against security of supply as a new market health objective could have a substantial impact,” he acknowledges.

The risk of supporting more expensive African-made vaccines could be mitigated if countries committed in advance to vaccines that would allow “predictable pooled supply volumes”.

African countries themselves must also “send clear demand signals to the market on the willingness to select and source from African suppliers”.

“In the last 18 months alone, more than 30 new manufacturing projects in Africa have been announced and estimates indicate that the African vaccine market for all existing and planned new products could range between $2.8 billion and $5 billion. $.6 billion by 2040, demonstrating the potential for a thriving regional industry to emerge,” according to Gavi.

However, the report also acknowledges that “disorderly expansion risks unhealthy competition, potentially undermining the impact of market-shaping initiatives that have delivered low vaccine prices to low-income countries, while failing to realize manufacturing aspirations. of Africa”.

It calls for a “business model” that “actively shapes markets in support of the AU vision: to achieve the mutually reinforcing goals of the continued health of the global market and a sustainable regional manufacturing sector.”

Nevertheless, the price of setting up new manufacturing facilities in Africa can mean that their products are far too expensive to be viable.

“Modeling indicates that price differentials for new entrants may exceed levels that could be considered in standard Gavi/UNICEF tenders, with no impact on program coverage,” warns Gavi.

“We have to find ways to support new entrants, while avoiding a situation where incumbent manufacturers are raising their prices for vaccines due to lost volumes. This carries a potential risk of increased costs of vaccination worldwide.

To address the high cost for new entrants, the plan proposes “a time-limited financial instrument that can help mitigate the high cost of vaccine production at market entry”.

He also advocates for this financial instrument to help African manufacturers make the most commercially viable antigen-based vaccines – starting with cholera and Ebola.

For their part, African countries are tasked with accelerating investments in an enabling environment, including “strong regulatory authorities, strong supply chains, skilled human capital, reduced trade barriers and strengthened regional coordination”.

Image credits: Gavi/Karel Prinsloo 2017.

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