21 May 2021 – Innovative vaccine manufacturers and biotech companies are at the forefront of the global effort to develop and manufacture COVID-19 vaccines. Despite a massive effort to scale up and produce billions of vaccine doses, COVID-19 vaccines currently are not equally reaching all priority populations worldwide. The innovative vaccine manufacturers and biotech companies have supported fair and equitable access to vaccines from the outset of the pandemic, as full and active partners in the ACT-Accelerator. In this spirit, these companies represented by seven industry bodies announced on 19 May 2021 the “Five steps to urgently advance COVID-19 vaccine equity”. Innovative vaccine manufacturers and biotech companies commit in these five steps to working with governments and non-governmental organizations including COVAX, CEPI, and WTO to support stepping up dose sharing, continue efforts to optimize production, call out trade barriers to be eliminated, support country readiness, and continue driving innovation.
Innovative vaccine manufacturers and biotech companies are at the forefront of the global effort to develop and manufacture COVID-19 vaccines. This massive effort is succeeding. After more than 200 clinical trials and nearly 300 partnerships and collaborations among manufacturers worldwide, production has increased, in just a few months from zero to 2.2 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses by the end of May with an astounding estimate of 11 billion doses by the end of 2021 (Airfinity data here). This will be enough doses to vaccinate the world’s adult population.
Critically, however, COVID-19 vaccines currently are not equally reaching all priority populations worldwide.
Manufacturers, governments, and non-governmental organizations must work together to take urgent steps to further address this inequity. Immediate action must focus on stepping up responsible dose sharing and maximizing production without compromising quality or safety.
To do so, ABPI, The Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), The European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA), The International Council of Biotechnology Associations (ICBA), International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA), The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) and Vaccines Europe on behalf of innovative vaccine manufacturers and biotech companies commit to:
STEP UP DOSE SHARING:
- Immediately work with governments that have significant domestic supplies of COVID-19 vaccine doses to share a meaningful proportion of their doses with low- and lower-middle-income countries in a responsible and timely way through COVAX or other efficient established mechanisms;
- Expend every effort to make additional uncommitted COVID-19 vaccine doses available to low- and lower-middle income countries, through COVAX or other efficient established mechanisms.
CONTINUE TO OPTIMIZE PRODUCTION:
- Undertake all practicable efforts to maximize COVID-19 vaccine output without compromising safety and quality, including through additional collaborations with partners that can produce significant quantities;
- Work with governments and individual suppliers of raw materials and components to determine how to quickly and safely facilitate scale up needed for COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing.
CALL OUT TRADE BARRIERS TO BE ELIMINATED:
- Identify trade barriers for critical input materials and support Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations’ (CEPI’s) effort to create an independent platform that would identify and address gaps in these inputs and facilitate voluntary matchmaking for fill and finish capacity through the newly established COVAX Supply Chain and Manufacturing Task Force;
- Urge governments, in coordination with the World Trade Organization(WTO), to eliminate all trade and regulatory barriers to export and to adopt policies that facilitate and expedite the cross-border supply of key raw materials, essential manufacturing materials, vaccines along with the prioritized movement of skilled workforce needed for COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing.
SUPPORT COUNTRY READINESS:
- Partner with governments on COVID-19 vaccine deployment, particularly in low- and lower-middle income countries, to ensure that they are ready and able to deploy available doses within their shelf life;
- Mitigate the risks to the production and deployment of other vaccines that remain vital to public health worldwide.
DRIVE FURTHER INNOVATION:
- Prioritize the development of new COVID-19 vaccines, including vaccines effective against variants of concern;
- Urge governments to guarantee unhindered access to pathogens (e.g. samples and sequences) of any COVID-19 variants to support the development of new vaccine and treatments.