Brussels/Geneva 26 November – The European Commission and the European and international associations representing the innovative biopharmaceutical industries are exploring the opportunities, challenges and possible avenues to create stronger vaccine and treatment manufacturing capabilities in Africa.
The European Union has identified the strengthening of health industries in Africa as being a critical objective to increase the continent’s longer-term health security and improve health outcomes. In May 2021, the European Commission announced the Team Europe initiative (TEI) on Manufacturing and Access to Vaccines, Medicines and Health Technologies (MAV+). In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, strengthening vaccine manufacturing capacity on the African continent is an immediate priority.
The innovative biopharmaceutical industry remains deeply committed doing all it can to support urgently needed steps to ensure COVID-19 vaccines are equitably distributed and is encouraged that the manufacturing scale up of vaccines is on track to reach 12 billion by the end of 2021. This massive scale up has been achieved through global partnerships, and much of Africa’s existing manufacturing capacity is engaged in this endeavor. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the need to increase manufacturing capacity on the continent further, also for other health products. This sits alongside other critical areas that need to be tackled to create the right enabling environment, including regulatory strengthening, supply chains, country readiness, absorptive capacity for vaccination programs, enhancing the local workforce, and building action-oriented partnerships.
In response to the COVID-19 vaccine crisis, the African Union (AU) through the African CDC has launched the Partnership for African Vaccine Manufacturing (PAVM). This initiative has brought together a diverse range of continental and international stakeholders to collaborate in the drive to increase the continent’s vaccine manufacturing capacity.
The creation of appropriate innovative, financial and regulatory ecosystems will be critical for the long-term development and sustainability of any local production initiatives for the African continent, for treatments as well as both routine and outbreak vaccines. Areas that the industry and the European Commission could explore include: access to financing; demand predictability and consolidation; conducive trade and business environment requirements; appropriate conditions for voluntary and mutually agreed upon technology transfer; support for regulatory system strengthening and reliance practices, including for the African Medicines Agency (AMA); assistance in building sustainable R&D; and human capital and skills development.
To this end, in 2022, the innovative biopharmaceutical industry through the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA), Vaccines Europe, and the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) will conduct a series of workshops with the European Commission and other private sector partners and African institutions to explore the above themes and possible initiatives to facilitate long term and business sustainable vaccine and treatment manufacturing capabilities in Africa.
In early 2022 the Europe-Africa Business Forum (EABF) planned to be held back-to-back with the EU-AU Summit will be an important opportunity to pursue this engagement.