[Vaccine-manufacturing] Devex: Global south-led vaccine summit eyes new tech-sharing platform

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Wed Jun 23 02:44:17 PDT 2021


Global south-led vaccine summit eyes new tech-sharing platform

By Jenny Lei Ravelo // 22 June 2021

Cuba and Mexico have committed to open licensing their domestically
developed COVID-19 vaccines, and Venezuela has proposed creating a
tech-sharing platform that could run in parallel with the World Health
Organization’s COVID-19 Technology Access Pool, at the conclusion of the
Summit for Vaccine Internationalism, led by countries from the global south.

Summit organizers described the event as in “polar opposite” to the G-7
leaders meeting in early June that saw G-7 leaders agreeing to share an
additional 870 million vaccine doses, but which health experts and
activists argued is largely inadequate to achieve inoculation targets.

WHO has appealed to the G-7 to help vaccinate at least 70% of the world’s
population by mid-2022. But the leaders’ dose-sharing commitments of up to
1 billion doses would only reach just 10.3% of the population in low- and
middle-income countries by that time period, according to an analysis by
the ONE Campaign.

“This is an inadequate solution on its own, simply because of the fact that
we have people dying in the thousands every single day in what has become
effectively a developing country pandemic,” Achal Prabhala, coordinator of
the AccessIBSA project and co-moderator at the event, said in a press
conference on Monday.

The summit was largely led by officials in middle-income countries,
particularly ministers from Latin American countries, who committed to
openly collaborate on COVID-19 vaccine technology, provide regulatory
capacity support to countries in need, and pool manufacturing capacity for
the production of vaccines and other medical equipment such as personal
protective equipment and oxygen.

“I think that the countries who convened together ... they are motivated by
I think the failure of all the existing systems to give them the kind of
vaccine supply that they need.”

— Achal Prabhala, coordinator, AccessIBSA project

Cuba and Mexico offered to collaborate on vaccine trials and open licensing
for other countries to be able to produce their domestically developed
vaccines, such as Cuba’s Soberana 2 and Mexico’s Patria.

Cuba’s Soberana 2 has shown 62% efficacy, according to preliminary data
from late-stage trials released over the weekend. The vaccine is currently
being administered in the country as part of efforts to stem another wave
of COVID-19 infections. Another of Cuba's vaccine candidates, Abdala — a
three-dose vaccine — has shown 92.28% efficacy.

Cuba’s Deputy Minister of Public Health, Dr. Regla Angulo Pardo, also told
summit participants that “Cuban vaccines will be affordable and will
benefit those most in need,” according to a news release shared by summit
organizer Progress International.

Mexico’s Deputy Secretary of Prevention and Health Promotion Dr. Hugo
López-Gatell Ramírez said that Mexico’s Patria vaccine “would include a
scheme for solidarity pricing for other countries,” according to the same
news release.

Licensing contracts typically include a standard royalty rate paid by
manufacturers that receive the technology and assistance to manufacture a
medical product such as a vaccine. While no vaccine pricing per se was
agreed on, Prabhala said that countries who participated in the summit made
clear that the technology for their vaccine candidates will be shared “at
rates that are affordable.”

Health officials from Mexico and Argentina also offered support on
regulatory assessments and approvals of COVID-19 vaccines, such as Russia’s
Sputnik V vaccine and India’s Covaxin developed by Bharat Biotech.

Venezuela offered its manufacturing industry to ramp up production of
vaccines and other medical equipment, and Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza
proposed a new technology sharing platform for participating countries.

“I think that the WHO and the COVAX facility have both had a degree of
innovative suggestions that have really not been taken up well such as
[sharing] technology platforms as well as have had failures I think in
terms of the actual delivery of vaccines from a platform like COVAX,” said

“I think that the countries who convened together ... they are motivated by
I think the failure of all the existing systems to give them the kind of
vaccine supply that they need,” he added.

Varsha Gandikota, a coordinator of the summit, said that Venezuela’s
proposal goes beyond just sharing vaccine technology, but also a mapping of
where there’s production potential for raw materials and other components
such as syringes, data for which has been a challenge for those trying to
produce vaccines.

Progressive International is “in the process of arranging follow-up
meetings where the specifics of the proposals will be determined, such as
timelines,” said James Schneider, its communications director.

There were questions on whether the summit would bring about pressure in
high-income countries and large pharmaceutical companies to reconsider what
many health activists have described as a monopoly over patent rights and
produce an alternative pharmaceutical system.

“I think if it turns out that a model of solidarity and cooperation, such
as the one that emerged out of the summit, is something that creates ...
pressure for Western vaccine manufacturers and Western governments, that
would be a great thing,” said Prabhala.

Thiru Balasubramaniam
Geneva Representative
Knowledge Ecology International
41 22 791 6727
thiru at keionline.org

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