COVID-19 Vaccine Manufacturing in Africa: Research & Development, Hubs and Talent Development
Currently, Africa has low capability to manufacture vaccines: less than 1% of Africa’s routine vaccines are locally manufactured, and production is mostly concentrated in 5 countries (South Africa, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt and Senegal). This has led to over- reliance on global supply; as such, exposing Africans to supply chain risks such as the one experienced with the current COVID-19 vaccine challenges.
There have been a number of actions to expand Africa’s pharmaceutical manufacturing capability. In 2007, the African Union Heads of State and Government, endorsed the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Plan for Africa (PMPA) with the aim of strengthening Africa’s manufacturing ability to contribute to improved health outcomes and realize economic benefits.
The PMPA recommended approaches to enable Member States to build local manufacturing capability of pharmaceuticals. Moreover, the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement offers flexibilities through which Members States can either build manufacturing capability or access affordable medical products. However, there are barriers that countries need to overcome to enable them to properly utilize and implement these recommendations and flexibilities: weak regulatory environments; procurement challenges; restricted access to finance; limited local skills; and a lack of clear co-ordination among Member States and sectors.