Vaccine Alliance Gavi Agrees on $1 Billion Investment in African Vaccine Manufacturing
Child receiving a WHO-recommended hepatitis B vaccine

The Board of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance has approved the establishment of a new African Vaccine Manufacturing Accelerator (AVMA), a financing instrument that is to make more than $1 billion available to support sustainable vaccine manufacturing in Africa.

The board decision marks a historic reversal of past efforts which saw the agency’s massive budget for vaccine procurement concentrated on the biggest pharma manufacturers in Asia, Europe and the Americas who could offer the lowest price-per-dose on vaccines Gavi procured due to economies of scale.

While such an approach may have seemed cost-efficient a decade ago, it also reinforced a concentration of vaccine production in certain regions of the world – and amongst a few key vaccine producers, leaving little space for new omers. That, in turn, left Africa high and dry when the COVID pandemic created a worldwide demand for a new vaccine, which only one or two South African manufacturers had the expertise to produce.

At a two-day meeting this week in Accra, Ghana, the Gavi board also agreed to set up a new $500 million First Response Fund to ensure immediately available financing for the procurement of novel vaccines, in the event of a future pandemic.  The lack of available funds, up front, also pushed the Gavi-backed COVAX vaccine facility to the back of the line of COVID vaccine procurement as rich and middle income countries lined up to stock national supplies in the first months after COVID vaccines became available.

New initiatives launched – but must be sustained

Since COVID, around 30 new vaccine initiatives have been announced on the African continent, involving  various aspects of late stage R&D, active ingredient manufacturing and fill-and-finish.  But sustaining those new efforts requires continued support and investment by national governments, research coommunities, multilateral agencies – and most of all vaccine buyers.

Around 30 investment initiatives for vaccines manufacturing in Africa have been announced since COVID-19.

“Gavi, as one of the largest purchasers of vaccines in the world, is thus sending a powerful signal to global markets that it will support African vaccine manufacturing,” said the agency in its  statement on the board decision.

“AVMA aims to make up to US$ 1 billion available to manufacturers at key moments in the development process as a way of helping offset high start-up costs and provide assurance of demand. By focusing on “priority” antigens, product profiles, and vaccine platforms, as well as constructing clear incentives for both “fill and finish” and drug substance production, AVMA will also support global vaccine markets by targeting clear unmet needs and help establish a thriving, sustainable, end-to-end African vaccine manufacturing ecosystem.”

African public health officials welcomed the move.

“Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance’s AVMA proposal has the potential to be a major step in the right direction and a powerful signal to other donors and investors that African vaccine manufacturing has a bright future,” said the African Vaccine Manufacturing Initiative (AVMI) of the new Gavi platform.

“Lessons from the pandemic have highlighted the need to put vaccine equity at the heart of pandemic preparedness, prevention and response.”

“A strong #AfricanVaccineManufacturing Industry is an opportunity, not a threat,” added Africa Centers for Disease Control in a post on X (Twitter).

Image Credits: Dilemma Online/Twitter .

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