UNLOCKING THE POTENTIAL OF SCIENCE IN THE GLOBAL SOUTH: A NEW APPROACH TO VACCINE EQUITY
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Date: TUESDAY 29 August 2023
Time: 07-8.30 Colombia; 12-13.30 Senegal; 14-15.30 South Africa/Switzerland, 19-20.30 Thailand
Register here: bit.ly/vaccine-equity-webinar
To bring equity and resilience to the heart of vaccine innovation, access, and epidemic preparedness, researchers and developers from the global south propose transforming the way we organize and finance the development and manufacturing of countermeasures such that they can rapidly contribute to research and development (R&D) efforts in response to outbreaks.
R&D for pandemic preparedness and response requires a new approach. The world has so far relied primarily on market dynamics to drive the development and availability of new health products as proprietary technologies, with major inequities in access to lifesaving products as a result.
At the same time, researchers and developers in the Global South have been largely sidelined during the innovation process, with R&D efforts primarily driven by wealthy country-based research institutes and companies, at best conducting some of the clinical trials in developing countries. With China, Cuba, and to some extent India as notable exceptions, many countries in the Global South have been at the recipient end of the breakthrough vaccines that helped curb the COVID-19 pandemic, exacerbating historical dependencies and power imbalances.
During the webinar, researchers and developers from Senegal, Thailand, Colombia, and South Africa describe how this can change. They will share their experience in domestic and regional vaccine R&D and manufacturing efforts, highlighting the challenges encountered and proposing concrete ways to overcome those.
This requires establishing regional or subregional R&D hubs equipped with the technology and capabilities to rapidly adapt existing technology platforms to address health threads of importance for their communities. These must be linked to clinical research networks and regional manufacturing capacity, that collectively work to improve public health rather than pursuing market opportunities.
A timely webinar as INB negotiations continue
The webinar, alongside a new paper by the panellists and co-authors to be published online on 28 August in The Lancet Global Health, aims to inform the ongoing policy discussions about improving pandemic preparedness and response, in particular around R&D and equitable access to medical countermeasures. This is a key topic of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body currently working on a pandemic accord, scheduled to meet again the week of 4 September 2023.
Chair/moderator: Dr Els Torreele, Independent researcher and consultant, and Visiting Policy Fellow at the UCL institute for Innovation and Public Purpose.
Opening Address: The Right Honourable Helen Clark, former Co-chair of the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response
Dr Amadou Sal, CEO, Institut Pasteur de Dakar, Senegal
Carolina Gomez, Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Health of the City of Bogotá, Colombia
Professor Kiat Ruxrungtham, Co-Director, Chula Vaccine Research Center (Chula VRC) and Director, School of Global Health, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand.
Professor Petro Terblanche, CEO, Afrigen Biologics, Cape Town, South Africa – the Centre of the WHO/MPP mRNA technology development and transfer programme.