A new partnership between the African Union and Africa’s Centres for Disease Control and Prevention dubbed African Vaccine Manufacturing (PAVM) is looking to leverage global partnerships and pan-African expertise to scale up vaccine manufacturing across the continent.
Two MoUs were signed between the AU and the Africa CDC last week at a virtual summit for AU heads of state. Over 40,000 participants took part in the virtual summit looking to expand Africa’s Vaccine Manufacturing for Health Security from the current 1% to 60% in 20 years. The continent looks to create a vision for manufacturing vaccines while protecting public health and security. Agreed was a roadmap to achieve 60% of the continent’s vaccine development and manufacturing ecosystem by 2040.
Dr. Ayoade Alakija, co-chair at the AU Africa Vaccine Delivery Alliance for Covid-19 pointed out how Africa needed to “produce its own vaccines.”
Five new centers
The new vaccine centers will be spread out in the East, West, North, Centre and South of the continent. The current AU chair and DRC President Felix Tshisekedi pointed out the financial challenges and the need for legislative harmonization. Thus far, Africa is the least affected continent globally with 4.3 million cases reported globally resulting in 114,000 deaths from a population of 1.2 billion as per official WHO figures.
Never before has vaccines meant so much across the globe. For several decades now, investors, private companies, and public health leaders have ignored domestic vaccine manufacturing. Over the past year or so, new realities are changing this calculation. Many African countries have just received their first vaccines from the COVAX facility or sealed bilateral deals.
Overreliance on imports
As a continent, Africa is heavily reliant on vaccine imports, accounting for 99% of routine vaccines. The global pandemic has raised a new question about the necessity of the continent having its own vaccine manufacturing capacity. The last time concerns for this arose was during the 2014 and 2018 Ebola outbreaks. A look at other emerging markets with large populations such as Brazil, Indonesia, and India reveals the creation of successful domestic vaccine industries.
Despite these concerns, there are clear benefits, cost concerns, demand uncertainties, and other issues that keep African countries from venturing into vaccine production in the past decade. The new urge to domestic manufacturing production is spurred by the impact of Covid-19 on Africa-specific outbreaks, strong demand for growth, economies spurred by new technologies, and the creation of supportive environments.
Africa vaccine market to double in 2030
9.4 million children born every year do not receive the doses of tetanus and pertussis vaccines. This only points out one gap in the continent’s vaccination program. When administered fully DTP and other life-changing vaccine programs save up to 3 million children annually. Closing most of these gaps offers great value to African societies and would completely change the economics of vaccine manufacture and distribution. Today, the continent’s combined public market sales are at $1.3 billion - around 25% of the total $33 billion markets. It’s worth noting that the demand in Africa is 25% of global volumes. According to a McKinsey modeling forecast, the continent’s public market for vaccines could shoot up to $5.4 billion by 2030.