Vaccine Equity for Africa: A moment of pride for the Biopharma Excellence team
by Michael Pfleiderer, Ph.D., principal consultant and senior director
When our team from Biopharma Excellence was asked to prepare the scientific and regulatory framework to support vaccine manufacturing in Africa it was both a first for our company and a moment of great pride for all three of us. Here, we would like to share with everyone what the Vaccine Equity for Africa project means to us.
Michael Pfleiderer, Ph.D., principal consultant and senior director
I refer to our team’s involvement as a first, by which I mean the opportunity to be involved at such a high political level, joining a meeting attended by the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, German Chancellor Olof Scholz and leaders from several African nations.
The process began at an August 2021 kick-off meeting, after which we wrote the White Book supporting the manufacturing transfer, released it and then on February 16, 2022, joined every stakeholder involved in the Vaccine Equity for Africa project for the launch of the initiative. Now the story moves from theory to practice as the process of transferring the technology to enable African nations to develop BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine begins.
Ilona Baraniak, Ph.D., senior consultant
Our team works on vaccines so all projects are important and have meaningful impact, but this particular project has the potential to have a huge impact on the entire African continent in terms of developing the manufacturing capacities that are currently not there. The first step is for the Covid-19 mRNA vaccines but later the objective is to build manufacturing capacity for vaccines that focus on neglected diseases that adversely impact the African continent. So far, there has been little to no development against those diseases.
This is a very complex issue, and we are just a small part of it, but I’m proud to be involved, and to have some meaningful contribution to the Vaccine Equity for Africa initiative.
It’s also an extremely interesting project because there is no precedent for it. The situation is new, and the political encouragement and readiness to do something in this geographical region in vaccine manufacturing is clear. There is momentum and we need to utilize our knowledge to the best of our ability to make it actually happen and build the foundations for a viable strategy.
Jerry Fuady, Ph.D., senior consultant
The impact the project will have on public health is enormous. Vaccine inequality, especially in the African continent, is mind blowing if you look at the small percentage of the population has been vaccinated. It’s a great honor to be part of an initiative that’s trying to improve the situation. It’s also exciting to be involved in a project to establish and support a comprehensive regulatory system.
Our team continues to play a role in the broader initiative as efforts continue to transfer the manufacturing technology to Africa. We look forward to continuing the journey and to seeing the project progress so that vaccine equity is finally a reality in Africa.