Kigali, 25 June 2022 (TDI): The African Union (AU) held a groundbreaking event “Vaccine Equity for Africa” with BioNTech on Thursday. The event was hosted in the Capital city of Rwanda.
The theme of the event was Vaccine Equity for Africa. During the event, Moussa Faki Mahamat, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC) made a remarkable statement.
Mahamat spoke highly of five agencies that contributed significantly to Pan-African development and African vaccination.
They are the AfCFTA, Africa CDC, the new African Medicines Agency (AMA), AUDA-NEPAD, and BioNTech.
President Kagame joins President @NAkufoAddo, President Irfaan Ali of Guyana, BioNTech CEO, Uğur Şahin, @AUC_MoussaFaki, @DrTedros, @AissataOfficiel & other stakeholders for the ground-breaking of @BioNTech_Group vaccine manufacturing facility, based on BioNTainer modular system. pic.twitter.com/KU7yeGBmGE
— Presidency | Rwanda (@UrugwiroVillage) June 23, 2022
An Overview of the Five Key Agencies Mentioned in the Statement
AfCFTA refers to the African Continental Free Trade Area. The implementation and improvement of AfCFTA offer the African continent a chance to recover the economy during the COVID era.
Therefore, African countries are more capable to deal with vaccination and the establishment of the local pharmaceutical industry.
The African CDC, a public health agency under the umbrella of AU, has been offering supervision to the Partnerships for African Vaccine Manufacturing (PAVM). As a new public health order, PAVM aims to expand the local manufacture of vaccines, diagnostics, and therapeutics.
Subsequently, the Framework of Action of the PAVM was a result of a call made by Africa CDC and the AUC in April 2021. Accordingly, it seeks to enable the continent to manufacture 60% of its vaccine needs locally by 2040.
African Medicines Agency
The new African Medicines Agency, AMA, is a specialized agency of AU. AMA dedicates to improving local access to quality, safe and efficacious medical products in Africa.
Moreover, AMA has seen supporting local pharmaceutical production as its main mission.
Furthermore, there is a tight link between AMA and the AUDA-NEPAD. AUDA-NEPAD initiated the harmonization of pharma regulation in Africa, ten years ago. Accordingly, AMA is working on the base that AUDA-NEPD established before.
Last but not least, BioNTech, a German company, is also playing a significant role in Africa’s vaccination. Recently, BioNTech has started to establish a COVID-19 vaccine plant in Rwanda.
The plant will become the first mRNA vaccine plant in Africa once it’s constructed. According to BioNTech, the company will start the construction of other vaccine plants in different African countries. Thus, BioNTech’s work will highly improve vaccine equality in the African continent.
AUC Chairperson’s Statement
The statement read:
H.E. President Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda,
H.E. President Nana Akuffo Addo, President of Ghana
Minister Aissata TALL, Minister of Foreign Affairs on behalf of the President Macky Sall President of Senegal and Chair of the African Union,
Dr Tedros Adhenom, Director General of WHO
Prof Dr Ugur SAHIN, CEO of BIONTECH SE
Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends
- Today marks a new, vital milestone on our common journey to make vaccine manufacturing on the Continent, a reality. The fact this is happening in Kigali, is no surprise; the city has been the birthplace of many innovative Pan-African initiatives. This is but one. Thank you, President Kagame.
- The Partnership for African Vaccine Manufacturing launched by the African Union in 2021 set Africa on a course to end our Continent’s dependence on imported vaccines.
- This was done not only in the urgent context of the Covid-19 pandemic, where Africa was once again last in line, but also alongside the establishment of key Continental initiatives and institutions in recent years: the AfCFTA, AfricaCDC, and the new African Medicines Agency, AMA. Here, I wish to recognise the leadership and support of my brother Dr Tedros.
- This builds on important work initiated more than ten years ago by AUDA-NEPAD on the harmonization of pharma regulation in Africa, which will be taken forward by AMA.
- I therefore want to commend the countries working with BioNTech — Ghana, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa — for moving quickly to create a viable framework for the end-to-end production of mRNA vaccines in Africa. It was the vision and foresight of leaders like President Kagame, President Nana Akuffo Addo, president Cyril Ramaphosa, who is also the AU Champion for Covid-19, and President Macky Sall, current Chair of our Union, that we standing here today
- BioNTech’s commitment to work with Africa in this way is remarkable and greatly appreciated.
- This approach complements other efforts at vaccine and pharma resilience underway around our Continent, all of which merit our full support.
- Just a year after the launch of Partnership for African Vaccine Manufacturing, we are breaking ground today. We look forward the first entirely made-in-Africa mRNA vaccines in 2023. We appreciate the support of partners such as the European Union.
- It is of paramount importance that this effort is pan-African, and continues to be. I pledge the continued support of the African Union as this work moves forward.
I thank you