Geneva, 23 April 2021 – Today we welcome the one-year Anniversary of ACT Accelerator (ACT-A) – an unprecedented global partnership established to defeat a global health crisis. The force of ACT-A has been its flexible, solution-oriented and collaborative approach, with all players – governments, business, civil society, and global health organizations – having a seat at the table. Beating COVID-19 will require constant global surveillance, continued innovation, and close cooperation.
Since the beginning of this pandemic, the biopharmaceutical industry committed to fair and equitable access to new COVID-19 tools. In joining the ACT-A last year, the biopharmaceutical industry signed up to bring to this partnership the industry’s unique knowledge and expertise in the discovery and development of novel therapeutics and vaccines and in building manufacturing capacity and distribution networks.
Within the year of ACT-A coming together considerable progress has been made, in particular with regards to vaccines. COVAX has secured nearly 2 billion vaccine doses; and 38 million have reached over 100 countries. This has only been possible, because within that time, several highly safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines have been approved, compressing a decade of normal development times in just ten months. In parallel to conducting the necessary steps to gain approval for the new vaccines, vaccine manufacturers prepared the manufacturing base from which today historic quantities of COVID-19 vaccines are being produced and deployed across the world. The speed of response is impressive.
This month, on the first anniversary of the ACT-Accelerator, the 1 billion COVID-19 vaccine production milestone has been reached, and current projections to produce close to 10 billion doses by the end of 2021 is thought to be feasible. According to a recent World Bank report, this should be sufficient to achieve global equity in the distribution of vaccines and attain worldwide herd immunity by March 2022. However, vaccine makers warn that their manufacturing scale up projections to meet global demand are dependent on immediate action being taken to promote the free flow of goods and trade as well as better visibility of demands on supplies.
The biopharmaceutical industry is committed to continue to play a critical role across ACT-A, across all the pillars. It is very eager to see COVAX manufacturing task force set up and play a key role so that it can urgently help identify and find solutions to constraints of raw materials, critical components and technology for vaccine manufacturing. One potential solution the task force needs to quickly examine is the creation of a clearing house or hub managed by a trusted third party to head off COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing supply problems before they occur by knowing where there could be spare resources or bottlenecks in supplies of critical items.
In the following months, the taskforce would be the appropriate forum for vaccine makers to share their experience of technology transfer and contribute to exploring the skills set needed to build a platform for sustainable vaccine manufacturing.
In an anniversary event video, Thomas Cueni, Director General, IFPMA said: “The task is daunting since vaccinating the world against SARS-CoV-2 requires a trebling of global vaccine capacity, literally overnight. To make this happen we are seeing unprecedented partnerships between vaccine manufacturers from industrialized and developing countries.” He concludes the statement by saying: “we have had setbacks: some vaccine projects failed, there have been and will be bumps and hitches in scaling up manufacturing, and we know the world needs to do better in walking the talk on vaccine equity. Biopharmaceutical companies are working relentlessly and partnering like never before to meet the public health demand. To end the pandemic, we must continue this journey together”.