African vaccine manufacturing scheme to boost production

June 18, 2024

*This article originally appeared in The Lancet

– Elisha Dunn-Georgiou, Global Health Council President & CEO

Gavi is launching the African Vaccine Manufacturing Accelerator to promote domestic vaccine production. Udani Samarasekera reports.

Africa’s ability to produce vaccines for the region and the world will soon receive a much-needed boost. The African Vaccine Manufacturing Accelerator (AVMA), a new US$1 billion innovative financing mechanism designed by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, launches on June 20, 2024, and offers manufacturers in Africa financial incentives to produce vaccines at scale. Hailed as a game-changer for the continent, it was created after the world witnessed the inequitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines during the pandemic. Gavi has been developing AVMA for 18 months and will launch it at a high-level event in Paris, France, co-hosted by the Government of France and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “AVMA is purposefully designed by Gavi as a response to what happened in the COVID-19 pandemic and to really help Africa along its own path to vaccine sovereignty”, David Kinder, Director of Development Finance at Gavi, told The Lancet.

In December, 2023, Gavi’s board agreed $1 billion for AVMA over 10 years. The funds come from “unspent COVID-19 balances”, explained Kinder, referring to COVAX, the vaccines pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator. In total, $1·8 billion was left over from COVAX and is now slated for projects on pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response. “Most of the money was provided to Gavi for that purpose, so it needs to be used for that purpose”, said Kinder. As well as AVMA’s money, around $500 million is going to the First Response Fund for advance purchases of vaccines for low-income countries in the next pandemic and roughly $300 million has gone to The Big Catch-Up campaign, immunising children who missed out on essential vaccines during the pandemic.

By co-designing AVMA with the Africa CDC, Gavi hopes to contribute to the African Union’s 2021 goal to locally manufacture 60% of the vaccine doses required on the continent by 2040. Currently, local African manufacturing supplies around 1% of the continent’s demand. Pontiano Kaleebu, Director of the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) and Head of viral pathogens theme at the MRC/UVRI and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) Uganda Research Unit, thinks that AVMA “will go a long way to contribute to the African Union goal…set after Africa witnessed delays and limited access to COVID-19 vaccines”.

Read the full article here.