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Macron And African Leaders Launch $1bn Vaccine Project

ON Thursday, French President Emmanuel Macron joined several African leaders to inaugurate a $1bn project aimed at accelerating the production of vaccines in Africa. This initiative, known as the African Vaccine Manufacturing Accelerator, seeks to provide financial incentives to vaccine manufacturers, addressing the significant disparities in vaccine access highlighted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The launch of this initiative offered Macron a brief respite from domestic political issues, with legislative elections approaching on June 30 and July 7, The Associated Press (AP) reported.

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African leaders and advocacy groups have long argued that the continent was unfairly marginalised in accessing Covid-19 vaccines, treatment tools, and testing equipment, which wealthier countries purchased in bulk when the pandemic struck in 2020.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) and various advocacy groups aim to better prepare Africa for future pandemics, which health experts deem inevitable. At the pandemic’s outset, South Africa was the only African country capable of vaccine production, and the continent contributed only a small fraction to the global vaccine supply.

Efforts by the WHO to establish a ‘pandemic treaty’ to enhance global preparedness and response were shelved during its annual meeting last month, due to disagreements over sharing information about pathogens and the advanced technologies used to combat them.

The event in Paris also seeks to secure additional funding for Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, a public-private partnership dedicated to delivering essential vaccines to developing countries. Gavi’s project aims to allocate up to $1bn over the next decade to strengthen Africa’s vaccine manufacturing capabilities, improve global vaccine markets, and enhance preparedness for pandemics and outbreaks like HIV, malaria, TB, and Covid-19.

Gavi plans to channel funds into African manufacturers once they meet specific supply and regulatory milestones, leveraging market forces to reduce prices and stimulate upstream investments. The project will also explore technology transfer—resisted by some Western countries with influential pharmaceutical sectors—and the potential establishment of an African medicines agency to address regulatory challenges across Africa’s diverse legal systems.

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