Linda Geddes interviewed Africa CDC Chief Dr John Nkengasong which explains how the continent can future-proof itself against the next pandemic and Why Africa needs to manufacture its own vaccines.
Currently there are at least five African countries that manufacture vaccines at different levels. Some are more focused on fill and finish, while others manufacture vaccines from end to end. The Institute Pasteur in Senegal, for example, manufactures yellow fever vaccines and has been doing so for many years. Then there are other countries, such as Nigeria, Ethiopia and Cameroon, that have been manufacturing animal vaccines over the years and that are aspiring to manufacture human vaccines.
But the African continent, a continent of 1.2 billion people and 55 Member States, still imports 99% of its vaccines and consumes 25% of global vaccine supply. You cannot guarantee the health security of your people by importing 99% of your vaccines. We have now seen how woefully that setup has failed the continent, said Dr John Nkengasong.
Estimates suggest that Africa’s existing vaccine market is worth $1.3 billion, and that is expected to grow to about $2.4 billion by 2030. The industry’s two biggest challenges are financing and human capital.
Vaccine manufacturing requires that you do research and development as well as production. Africa has not done that and needs to invest in that in a very deliberate way, with its own resources and commitment. However, not every country needs to do this – you can have hubs on the continent, which is what we are promoting within the Africa CDC and the African Union.
Dr John Nkengasong said, in April this year, we held a virtual summit which brought together over 40,000 people with four Heads of State in attendance. We discussed a roadmap for African vaccine manufacturing; it was agreed that between now and 2040 we need to shift the paradigm so that we can begin to manufacture at least 60% of our vaccines. If we do not do that then we fail ourselves.
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