COVID-19 vaccines are central to ending the global pandemic. Our collective objective has been to scale-up and distribute safe and efficacious COVID-19 vaccines to as many people as possible, as quickly as possible.
Research, development, and production of COVID-19 vaccines
A strong intellectual property (IP) framework is crucial for supporting research and development (R&D) across all innovative sectors, including life sciences.
The life sciences industry has worked tirelessly to research, develop and scale-up the production of multiple COVID-19 vaccines and is doing everything possible – including diverting resources to ramp up manufacture and transferring technology and know-how to third party manufacturers – to ensure that people across the globe can access these vaccines.
What has been achieved to date?
- Increased manufacturing capacity through collaboration between companies and partner manufacturing organisations – underpinned by a strong IP framework – is happening already. COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing output, driven principally by USA, Europe, China, and India, is now amounting to over 1 billion vaccines each month.
- The 9.3 billion COVID-19 vaccine dose output by the end of October, and the estimated production of 12.5 billion by the end of the year, demonstrates the industry’s success in trebling global vaccine capacity in less than a year.
- In addition, major strides have been made over the past year to support production
- In Africa, a number of important agreements and commitments have been made to share know-how of mRNA and adenoviral vector vaccine platforms via voluntary collaborations.
Five steps required to urgently advance COVID-19 vaccine equity
Critically, however, COVID-19 vaccines currently are not equally reaching all priority populations worldwide. Manufacturers, governments, and non-governmental organisations must work together to further address this inequity.
The innovative pharmaceutical industry has identified the following five steps:
STEP UP DOSE SHARING
- Immediately work with governments that have significant domestic supplies of COVID-19 vaccine doses to share a meaningful proportion of their doses with low- and lower-middle-income countries in a responsible and timely way through COVAX or other efficient established mechanisms;
- Expend every effort to make additional uncommitted COVID-19 vaccine doses available to low- and lower-middle income countries, through COVAX or other efficient established mechanisms.
CONTINUE TO OPTIMISE PRODUCTION
- Undertake all practicable efforts to maximise COVID-19 vaccine output without compromising safety and quality, including through additional collaborations with partners that can produce significant quantities;
- Work with governments and individual suppliers of raw materials and components to determine how to quickly and safely facilitate scale up needed for COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing.
CALL OUT TRADE BARRIERS TO BE ELIMINATED
- Identify trade barriers for critical input materials and support Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations' (CEPI's) effort to create an independent platform that would identify and address gaps in these inputs and facilitate voluntary matchmaking for fill and finish capacity through the newly established COVAX Supply Chain and Manufacturing Task Force;
- Urge governments, in coordination with the World Trade Organization (WTO), to eliminate all trade and regulatory barriers to export and to adopt policies that facilitate and expedite the cross-border supply of key raw materials, essential manufacturing materials, vaccines along with the prioritised movement of skilled workforce needed for COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing.
SUPPORT COUNTRY READINESS
- Partner with governments on COVID-19 vaccine deployment, particularly in low- and lower-middle income countries, to ensure that they are ready and able to deploy available doses within their shelf life;
- Mitigate the risks to the production and deployment of other vaccines that remain vital to public health worldwide.
DRIVE FURTHER INNOVATION
- Prioritise the development of new COVID-19 vaccines, including vaccines effective against variants of concern;
- Urge governments to guarantee unhindered access to pathogens (e.g., samples and sequences) of any COVID-19 variants to support the development of new vaccine and treatments.