AFRICA – The Board of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, has made a groundbreaking decision to establish the African Vaccine Manufacturing Accelerator (AVMA), a financing instrument aimed at providing more than US$1 billion to support sustainable vaccine manufacturing in Africa.
This strategic move by Gavi marks a pivotal shift from its past strategies, which predominantly involved procuring vaccines from major pharma manufacturers in Asia, Europe, and the Americas.
While this approach may have seemed cost-effective in the past, it contributed to the concentration of vaccine production in specific regions and limited opportunities for new players.
When the global demand for a new vaccine arose during the COVID pandemic, Africa found itself with minimal capacity, highlighting the need for a more diversified and resilient vaccine manufacturing landscape.
In a recent two-day meeting held in Accra, Ghana, the Gavi Board also greenlit the establishment of a US$500 million First Response Fund.
This fund aims to ensure readily available financing for the prompt procurement of novel vaccines in the event of future pandemics, addressing the challenges faced by initiatives like the Gavi-backed COVAX facility during the initial phases of COVID vaccine procurement.
Post-COVID, Africa has witnessed the announcement of approximately 30 new vaccine initiatives, covering late-stage research and development, active ingredient manufacturing, and fill-and-finish processes.
However, the sustainability of these efforts hinges on continuous support and investment from national governments, research communities, multilateral agencies, and, crucially, vaccine buyers.
Gavi, as one of the world’s largest vaccine purchasers, is sending a robust signal to global markets through AVMA, indicating its commitment to supporting African vaccine manufacturing.
AVMA’s objective is to allocate up to US$1 billion to manufacturers at critical stages of development, mitigating high start-up costs and providing demand assurance.
By focusing on priority antigens, product profiles, and vaccine platforms, AVMA aims to address unmet needs and contribute to the establishment of a thriving, sustainable African vaccine manufacturing ecosystem.
The AVMA proposal by Gavi has garnered positive reactions from African public health officials, with the African Vaccine Manufacturing Initiative (AVMI) expressing optimism about the bright future of African vaccine manufacturing.
The lessons learned from the pandemic underscore the importance of placing vaccine equity at the core of pandemic preparedness, prevention, and response.
Gavi’s forward-looking initiatives are seen as a major step in the right direction, sending a powerful signal to donors and investors that African vaccine manufacturing is on a trajectory toward success.