Research Roundup: African vaccine capacity, TB vaccine accelerator, Pfizer's access initiative
In this regular feature on Breakthroughs, we highlight some of the most interesting reads in global health research from the past week.
Last week, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness (CEPI) announced an up-to-US$50 million investment over ten years in building the vaccine development capacity of Senegal’s Institut Pasteur. Following Africa’s major challenges in accessing COVID-19 vaccines during the pandemic, the investment aims to ensure the production of vaccines for low- and middle-income countries during future health crises, and to increase African autonomy over regional health security efforts. The first round of funding includes $15 million over three years, which will fund the development of manufacturing facilities.
Last week at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced plans to set up a new TB Vaccine Accelerator Council to catalyze the development of tuberculosis (TB) vaccines. In launching the plan, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus noted the lesson learned during the pandemic that global, cross-sector commitments and partnerships can accelerate the vaccine research and development process. In addition to stressing the importance of strong TB programs and commitments from high-burden countries, the speakers at the launch event urged countries to renew their commitment toward combating TB by reinvigorating research efforts that have been historically stagnant.
Also, at the meeting in Davos, Pfizer announced that it will make its entire portfolio of 500 drugs and vaccines available to 45 low-income countries at nonprofit prices. This collection of medical technologies includes patented and off-patient medicines, a range of antibiotics, as well as new vaccines and medicines as they are launched. This effort is an expansion of last year’s “An Accord for a Healthier World” initiative, which focused on a smaller number of patented products, including the COVID antiviral treatment Paxlovid. The initiative will provide more than a billion people access to important products, hopefully helping to address major global health challenges, including antimicrobial resistance which has arisen in part, due to challenges accessing a broad scope of treatments.