Opening remarks by WHO Director-General at stakeholder engagement event: Progress so far in implementing partnerships for vaccine manufacturing in Africa – World


Your Excellency President Paul Kagame,

Excellencies, colleagues and friends,

Hello, and thank you very much for the opportunity to share some thoughts with you today.

When we last spoke in April, vaccines had already been rolled out around the world for four months.

Since then, some countries have successfully vaccinated the majority of their populations and are on track for widespread coverage with boosters.

But in April, most countries around the world, including most African countries, did not have enough vaccines to cover all health workers or all at-risk groups, let alone the rest of their populations.

This remains the case.

Over 80% of the world’s vaccines have gone to G20 countries; low-income countries, mostly in Africa, received only 0.6% of all vaccines.

We are happy that COVAX and AVAT are now accelerating as supply increases, but we are still a long way from achieving our goals of vaccinating 40% of the population of all countries by the end of this year, and 70% by the middle of next year.

More than 100 countries still have not reached the 40% target, and more than half of them, mainly in Africa, are at risk of missing it by the end of the year, mainly because they cannot access the vaccines they need.

We have often said that as long as vaccine inequity persists, the more likely the virus is to spread and mutate in ways that no one can prevent or predict.

And so, we have Omicron.

I thank South Africa and Botswana for quickly detecting, sequencing and reporting this new variant.

It is deeply disappointing to me that some countries continue to block direct flights from southern Africa due to the Omicron variant.

Persistent inequality in access to vaccines and the emergence of the Omicron variant show why the world needs more widespread and regional vaccine production, as well as intellectual property reform to share these public goods. vital for global health, technology transfer, knowledge sharing, and training.

At the same time, there has been some progress since we last met in April.

First, as you know a month ago, the African Medicines Agency Treaty entered into force, paving the way for improved quality, safety, efficacy, availability and accessibility of drugs and vaccines across the continent. We will continue to provide technical and financial support until the African Medicines Agency is ready.

Second, Egypt, Morocco, Rwanda and Senegal have all signed agreements or memoranda of understanding for the manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines in their countries, and Algeria has started production.

Third, WHO and its partners have established an mRNA technology transfer center in South Africa to boost vaccine production on the continent.

It brings together the WHO, the Medicines Patent Pool, Afrigen Biologics Limited, the Biologicals and Vaccines Institute of Southern Africa, the South African Medical Research Council and the African CDC.

Fourth, WHO has established a vaccine industry talent development program, in partnership with the MasterCard Foundation, with a focus on Africa.

And fifth, the coordinated development of local manufacturing capacity on the continent in partnership with the Team Europe Initiative on the manufacture of and access to medicines, vaccines and health technologies.

At its summit in October, the G20 issued a statement saying it will support increasing the distribution, administration and local manufacturing capacity of vaccines in low- and lower-middle-income countries.

This includes supporting technology transfer centers, such as the newly established mRNA centers in South Africa, Brazil and Argentina, and through joint production and processing agreements.

One of the biggest challenges we face is increasing the supply of skilled labor with training in biofabrication.

Even before the pandemic, we knew that strengthening local production in Africa would be an essential part of our continent’s journey towards universal health coverage.

So it’s not just COVID-19. There will always be more outbreaks of disease and epidemics. This is why the local production of vaccines is so critical.

WHO remains committed to working with the AU, its Member States, the African CDC, the African Medicines Agency and the African Vaccine Manufacturing Partnerships, to support the development of national vaccine manufacturing capacities, in part of our common efforts to build a healthier environment. , a more secure and fairer future for Africa.

I thank you.


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