Paris: World leaders, health groups and pharmaceutical firms announced $1.2 billion in funding at a summit Thursday to produce vaccines in Africa, which is facing numerous health crises including rising cholera outbreaks.

The African Vaccine Manufacturing Accelerator “will be an essential step towards a genuine African vaccine market,” French President Emmanuel Macron said at the opening of the summit in the Paris.

Three quarters of this funding will come from Europe, Macron told the summit, which was also attended by leaders from Botswana, Rwanda, Senegal, Ghana, as well as visiting ministers, health groups and pharmaceutical firms.

Germany will contribute $318 billion to the scheme, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in a video message.

France put in $100 million and the UK $60 million, while other donors include the United States, Canada, Norway, Japan and the Gates Foundation.

The scheme “could become a catalyst for promoting the pharmaceutical industry in Africa and fostering collaboration between member states”, African Union commission Moussa Faki Mahamat told the summit.

Africa imports “99 percent of its vaccines at an exorbitant cost”, he added.

The Covid-19 pandemic shone a light on the unequal global distribution of vaccines, as wealthy countries home to big pharma firms snapped up most doses, leaving Africa far behind.

The new scheme aims to move vaccine production to Africa to give the continent more sovereignty — and avoid history repeating.

“When the next pandemic hits, even if our leaders in the rich Western countries are angels, the pressure to hold on to your own vaccines, for your own people, is always going to be irresistible,” British Foreign Secretary David Cameron told the summit.

A recent resurgence of cholera in many parts of Africa has highlighted the need for more local vaccine producers. Only one firm in the world — South Korea’s EuBiologics — makes the cheap and effective vaccine doses for the deadly disease.

Macron called for cholera to be “consigned to the past”, adding that outbreaks were now affecting “half of Africa”.

He announced a production chain for cholera vaccines to be launched in Africa by the South African biopharmaceutical firm Biovac.

– $9 billion sought –

The Gavi vaccine alliance, which helps distribute jabs for more than 20 different diseases to poorer countries, was one of the organisers of Thursday’s Global Forum for Vaccine Sovereignty and Innovation.

At the forum, Gavi announced it is seeking to raise $9 billion to fund its vaccine programmes from 2036 to 2030.

The US will contribute $1.58 billion to the Gavi effort, first lady Jill Biden said in a video message, with more commitments expected later Thursday.

Gavi chair Jose Manuel Barroso said that “one million children vaccinated since 2000 is an incredible achievement”.

“A child born today has a better chance of celebrating his or her fifth birthday than ever before in history,” he said.

But there are still millions of children never vaccinated against any disease — and “hundreds of millions more need to access to more vaccines,” he added.

Only two percent of the vaccines administered in Africa are made on the continent. The African Union aims to raise this figure to 60 percent by 2040.

pan-dl/jj

  • Published On Jun 20, 2024 at 05:54 PM IST

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