Moderators: Dr Morena Makhoana, CEO Biovac and Mr Sai D. Prasad, Board Chair of Developing Country Vaccine Manufacturers Network (DCVMN);

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General, World Health Organisation (WHO);

Dr. Bruce Aylward, Senior Advisor to Director General World health Organisation (WHO);

Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of the GAVI Vaccine Alliance;

Dr. Richard Hatchett, CEO at Coalition for epidemic Preparedness Innovation (CEPI);

Dr. David C. Kaslow, Chief Scientific Offer at PATH;

Dr. Derrick Sim, Director–Vaccine Supply & Demand from GAVI;

Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, Chief Scientist from WHO;

Dr. Solomon Zewdu, Deputy Director–Health and Nutrition Africa at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF);

Dr. Rogério Paulo Pinto de Sá Gaspar, Director– Regulation and Prequalification Department at WHO;

All panellists and speakers;

All Member companies and fraternal organisations;

Member countries;

Distinguished guests;

Ladies and gentlemen;

Members of the media;

I great you all

 

Let me start by thanking the organizing committee under the leadership of CEO Rajinder Suri for successfully putting this event together under difficult circumstances.

 

The coronavirus pandemic has not only led to the untimely death of millions of people around the world but has also destroyed a lot of livelihoods.

 

It gives me a sense of pride and excitement to give an inaugural address this important meeting today held under the theme: Vaccines: New Challenges, New Paradigms, New opportunities.

 

First, in that, as developing countries, we are taking the matter of vaccine manufacturing seriously having learnt, if not from the past pandemics, have definitely now from COVID-19.

 

The greatest lesson we have learned from this pandemic is that fortune favours the prepared.

 

This is amongst the reasons why South Africa support the establishment of a global health Financial Intermediary Fund for pandemic preparedness as well as a Global Health Threats Council.

 

It will be to all developing countries delight if this meeting could come up with a sustainable plan on how developing countries will be supported. Not only to meet targets around vaccinations, oxygen, diagnostics, personal protective equipment but also for manufacturing.

 

We must close the financing and supply gap for COVAX, AVATT and other mechanisms.

 

Cooperation, collective action and above all consensus, is our greatest strength in the current crisis and will continue to be in the future.

 

I am also proud that Biovac, as one of our pioneering vaccine manufacturers is co-hosting the event.  It is pleasing to note that Biovac has been a long-standing member of DCVMN and is part of the executive committee.

 

Again, Biovac last hosted the meeting in 2007 in Cape Town and this is the second hosting. I would like to thank Dr Morena Makhoana, CEO Biovac and Mr Sai D. Prasad, Board Chair of DCVMN.

 

Ladies and gentlemen

 

The fact that the Developing Country Vaccine Manufacturers Network is one of the largest vaccine industry associations which enjoys a membership of over 40 companies from 14 countries including South Africa, Brazil, Argentina, Indonesia, China and South Korea shows that developing countries can work together to build strong vaccine manufacturing capabilities on their own.

 

One of the biggest challenges we face under the current pandemic is that while many in developed countries are vaccinated, we in the developing countries are still waiting for vaccines.

 

As of yesterday, 3.75 billion people world-wide have received a dose of COVID-19 vaccine which is equivalent to 49% of the world population.

 

About 77% of these have gone into arms of those in high and upper-middle income countries  with only 0.5% of the doses administered in low-income countries. This is unjust and immoral.

 

It is apparent that the gulf is widening between better-resourced national who are buying up and even hoarding vaccines and developing countries who are struggling to have access to vaccines.

 

The COVID 19 pandemic has revealed the full extent of the vaccine gap between developed and developing economies and how that gap can severely undermine global health security.

  
Most countries are still dependent on vaccine sharing arrangement under COVAX which regardless of aiming to provide two billion doses by the end of 2021 are bound to have far much less due to production problems, export bans, and vaccine hoarding.

Whilst we welcomed the donations and sharing of vaccines to developing countries, as developing countries we should be able to manufacture our own vaccines as well as procure them directly.

 

With a view of ensuring that African countries have better access to vaccines all African Union member states signed an agreement through The Africa Vaccine Acquisition Task Team to gain access to 220 million doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

 

The DCVMN must therefore, working in partnership with governments, position developing countries to deal with emerging pandemics better.

 

I am pleased South Africa, under the leadership of President Ramaphosa is not only spearheading efforts to access covid19 vaccines for South Africa and the continent at large, but also leading a programme of building localised vaccine manufacturing capabilities in Low- and Middle- Income Countries.

 

The announcement of the hosting by South Africa of the mRNA vaccine Technology Transfer Hub through Afrigen and Biovac and our government support of this initiative shows that we are committed ourselves and our fellow developing countries change course from this deadly dependence.

 

It is therefore timely for an African company to be hosting a vaccine summit, especially because we need to deal with this unwanted record of us being the last continent to receive COVID-19 vaccines or any other health-related technology solution for that matter.  

 

With an association such as the DCVMN, we do indeed consider ourselves in a company of those who are keen to support their own members on the African continent especially after observing vaccine nationalism with export bans of COVID-19 vaccines.

 

We indeed pride ourselves in those of our members contributing to COVID-19 vaccines such as the Serum Institute of India producing the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, Biological E from India producing on behalf of J&J, Aspen (South Africa) producing for J&J and soon, Biovac (South Africa) producing the Pfizer vaccine, amongst others.

 

There are of course those DCVMN companies that developed COVID-19 vaccines from the scratch who deserve a special mention. They are  Sinovac from China, Bharat Biotech and Zydus Cadila from India.

 

We can, with this capacity build within our own membership to foster technology transfer programmes.  

 

Let me also in addition to having mentioned the mRNA Technology Transfer Hub being hosted in South Africa also acknowledge DCVMN members that are part of the WHO network through the mRNA Hubs such as various South African universities and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) which has announced the selection of Sinergium Biotech, in Argentina and Bio-Manguinhos, in Brazil, as regional hubs for the development and production of mRNA-based vaccines in Latin America.

 

Having learned from COVID-19, and being still in a celebratory mood after WHO’s last week announcement of the approval of the use of the first malaria vaccine developed by the multinational GSK, a vaccine particularly for Africa and some parts of Asia which are not malaria free, we are proud to hear that this vaccine will be produced by one of the DCVMN members being Bharat Biotech.

 

It is indeed this reality, that we, in the developing world bear the heaviest brunt of deadly diseases that drives us to foster more research to develop our own vaccines and drugs.

 

I wish you the best and look forward to us working in partnership to defeat not only existing but to decisively deal with pandemics of the future between universities and companies in joint projects but also in scientific skills enhancement.

 

I Thank you all