World of vaccines is a ‘fiendishly’ complex one

COMMENT

In response to Will Africa’s best shot at at Covid-19 vaccine be enough?, Mail & Guardian (12 October)

Laura López González doubts that the only truly global vaccine-based solution to Covid-19, the Covax partnership, will reach those most in need because any intellectual property (IP) relating to eventual vaccines will remain with the organisations that developed them.

It is important that Africa, along with other regions of the Global South, builds its own vaccine-manufacturing capacity and it is important that leaders from the public and private sector do everything they can to drive forward this goal. Sadly, however, it is just not realistic to believe that the provision of technological know-how to every country in the world will enable us to produce the number of doses we need, in the time we need them, to defeat the pandemic.

The world of vaccines, like many other worlds, does not work like that. For one thing, it would be impossible for any organisation to develop vaccines were there not an economic incentive in the first place. More significantly, manufacturing of vaccines is fiendishly complex, and often requires thousands of individual steps: to put one foot wrong would put lives at risk.

In acknowledgement of the fact that supply constraints, not IP issues, will be the biggest barrier to achieving global coverage of Covid-19 vaccines, Covax is instead focusing on raising enough cash to incentivise manufacturers to make enough doses to satisfy global demand. As well as making sure countries get enough life-saving, cold-chain infrastructure to eventually deliver them.


This may come at a cost, but it leaves behind a legacy of sustainable economic development. Already, Covax has inked contracts for hundreds of millions of doses of Covid-19 vaccines from manufacturers in the Global South and the upshot of this is a more diverse, more competitive market for vaccines that has been proven to bring down costs dramatically in the long run.

Delivering Covid-19 vaccines to the world could possibly be the largest global health deployment in history. It is literally all hands on deck, and we will only succeed if we work together to make it happen.

Subscribe to the M&G for R2 a month

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

And for this weekend only, you can become a subscriber by paying just R2 a month for your first three months.

Thabani Maphosa
Thabani Maphosa is managing director of Gavi, the vaccine alliance

Related stories

The Portfolio: Antony Kaminju

Antony Kaminju shares his experience of making a photo of the Roving Bantu Kitchen’s Sifiso Ntuli

Covid-19 info lags as cases shoot up

Vital information apps and websites are outdated as cases begin to mushroom, especially near the coast, just in time for the December holidays

Trump’s mantra of ‘fake news’ harmed media

Viewers and readers need to trust that news outlets are accurate, balanced, fair and impartial

We must keep Covid-19’s gains in education

COMMENT: The disaster regulations mandated zero-rating for some websites. Now it is time to expand this access

Surveys predict Black Friday likely to fuel e-commerce

Fear of contracting the coronavirus while fighting off other shoppers will probably change how people shop for sales

Between dark and light was Maradona

The life of Diego Armando Maradona, who died this week, will always remind us that the smell of shit is as important as the perfume of flowers, writes Niren Tolsi
Advertising

Subscribers only

ANC: ‘We’re operating under conditions of anarchy’

In its latest policy documents, the ANC is self-critical and wants ‘consequence management’, yet it’s letting its members off the hook again

Q&A Sessions: ‘I think I was born way before my...

The chief executive of the Estate Agency Affairs Board and the deputy chair of the SABC board, shares her take on retrenchments at the public broadcaster and reveals why she hates horror movies

More top stories

Covid-19 info lags as cases shoot up

Vital information apps and websites are outdated as cases begin to mushroom, especially near the coast, just in time for the December holidays

DA leader bought wife a car with ‘corruption’ earnings

Senior Ekurhuleni councillor Shabangu purchased a Ford SUV from an alleged R1.2-million kickback

SAA funds may need a top-up

Industry experts predict the R10.5-billion from the treasury to rescue the airline may not be enough, but the rescue practitioners say the money is enough to ‘settle the sins of the past’

Trump’s mantra of ‘fake news’ harmed media

Viewers and readers need to trust that news outlets are accurate, balanced, fair and impartial
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…