The fight against COVID-19 is being held back by the shortage of vaccines globally – consequently leading to a geopolitical tensions and accusation of “vaccine nationalism”.
As of end of Jan 2021, there were 6 vaccines which are in commercial production and available. Two of these are developed by China and Russia, and none by any countries in the global south except India.
In the meantime, an excess of 12 billion doses will need to be manufactured and distributed in order to vaccinate the world's population and push back the pandemic.
On Wednesday, 17 February 2021, AUDA-NEPAD SANBio in partnership with PharmaConnect Africa, International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) and the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), South Africa is set to host a virtual colloquium on Africa’s potential to develop vaccines for current and future diseases learning from other developing countries.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly shown the need to mobilize the global scientific community wherever it may reside and work so that we are better prepared for future pandemics,” Professor David Katerere Research Platform Chair at Tshwane University of Technology and moderator of the PharmaConnect Africa webinar series.
According to Katerere, Africa is capable of developing vaccines and cited countries such as South Africa, Zimbabwe, Senegal and Nigeria who currently manufacture vaccines for animals and therefore have the potential capability to move into production of human vaccines.
“No one country can produce 12 billion doses of vaccines, therefore, if we had disseminated production across the world, then Africa would also contribute to solving this global health challenge.”
“We need to invest in the development of technologies to manufacture vaccines and create a regional approach to purchasing vaccines. This will be essential to guaranteeing the health of our population, consequently reducing dependency on other countries,” Katerere added.
Katerere said the colloquium will also explore the use of Africa’s rich plant diversity to improve the effectiveness of the AstraZeneca vaccine for instance.
“Vaccines are great, but they don’t work in isolation. For example, when we look at the efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccines against the 501Y.V2 variant – it could be improved by applying other immune stimulating components which are found in plants resources. Professor Robert Nash’s topic on Vaccine Adjuvants from Africa, will therefore help us understand the possibility of exploring this line of research”.
The colloquium will also bring together scientists, researchers, citizens and policy makers to discuss how the global south can contribute to vaccine research and manufacturing. The focus will not only be on COVID-19 vaccines but vaccinology in general for current and future diseases.
Speakers include Dr. Georgia Schafer, Group Leader at ICGEB Cape Town; Phumla Ngqawa, Clinical Trial Researcher based in the US; Prof Jorge Kalil, Professor of Clinical Immunology and Allergy, School of Medicine, University of São Paulo, Brazil; Dr Navin Khanna, Translational Health Research Group Leader, ICGEB New Delhi Component, Prof Robert Nash, CEO of Phytoquest (UK) and; Dr Ereck Chakauya, AUDA-NEPAD SANBio Network Manager.
Date: 17 February 2021
Time: 14:00 - 16:00 CAT
Venue: Zoom Meeting
Register in advance for this meeting
Meeting ID: 838 7399 3448
The colloquium will virtually simulcast on both Zoom and Connect Conversations Facebook Live