Responding to the stark global gap in vaccine access for COVID-19 and other diseases, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) today announced a partnership with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), a global alliance to accelerate development of vaccines against emerging infectious diseases. In their memorandum of understanding, IFC and CEPI agreed to collaborate to unlock opportunities for commercially viable vaccine production in low and middle-income countries.
Starting in Africa, CEPI and IFC will evaluate and identify countries, partners, and projects best positioned to create commercially viable vaccine manufacturing hubs to increase vaccine access in underserved areas. At present, the African continent – home to over 1.2 billion people – imports 99% of its vaccines and uses 25% of the global vaccine supply.
Richard Hatchett, CEO of CEPI said: “There is an urgent need to support low-income and middle-income countries to build their public health resilience and capacity to deal with emerging infectious threats. Strengthening vaccine manufacturing capabilities within these countries is not only crucial for improving equitable access to vaccines, it is also a critical part of epidemic and pandemic preparedness and our collective security. CEPI’s collaboration with the IFC aims to build vaccine manufacturing capacity in lower income regions and in the long-term help to enable a rapid response to outbreaks and boost vaccine supply for vulnerable populations, protecting lives and livelihoods.”
CEPI will help IFC evaluate the technical aspects of potential projects and capability requirements of its prospective investees and technology transfer partners. CEPI will assist in assessing technology capabilities of manufacturers, vaccine product portfolios, versatility of suppliers in producing different kinds of vaccines, and identify critical success factors required for sustainable local vaccine production.
This new collaboration aims to find opportunities for IFC to invest in co-developing vaccine manufacturing projects in partnership with local and international vaccine manufacturers, and to mobilize financing and other support for these projects.
“The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has shown how inequities around vaccine access are preventing a global recovery. Encouraging new, viable locations and markets for vaccine manufacture is essential to solving this problem,” said IFC’s Senior Director for Manufacturing, Agribusiness and Services, Tomasz Telma. “Developing vaccine manufacturing capacity in emerging markets in Africa and around the globe is crucial for building a more resilient global health system.”
The collaboration forms a major part of CEPI’s longer term epidemic and pandemic strategy. As part of this strategy, CEPI aims to work with low-income and middle-income countries to develop the infrastructure and expertise to undertake the epidemiological and clinical studies needed to advance vaccine development, support technology transfer, and develop national and regional manufacturing capacity that will enable these countries to take full ownership of their national health security. Most recently, CEPI partnered with the African Union, acting through the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, to enhance vaccine research and development and manufacturing in Africa.
To support the scale-up and scale-out of vaccine manufacturing in low-income and middle-income countries, CEPI, and its COVAX co-leads—WHO, Gavi, and UNICEF—also launched the “COVAX Manufacturing Task Force“, with industry partners (IFPMA, Bio, DCVMN), to identify and resolve issues impeding equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines through COVAX.
For IFC, the partnership builds on its ongoing effort to boost emerging market vaccine and pharmaceutical production, particularly in Africa, and is part of IFC’s Upstream engagement, which consists of pre-investment work laying the foundation for future investment opportunities, often in collaboration with the World Bank and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency. Efforts include technical assistance, capacity building for institutions and private companies, and support to clients and governments, among others. Most recently, IFC announced a collaboration with non-profit medical foundation and vaccine maker Institut Pasteur de Dakar (IPD) in Senegal to expand its capacity to manufacture vaccines for COVID-19 and other diseases.
IFC currently has an active portfolio of $2.5 billion in healthcare companies in emerging markets around the globe.
Source: The International Finance Corporation (Published on September 2, 2021)