Collaboration is key for equitable access

The Covid-19 pandemic has prompted the most remarkable ambitious and collaborative response from across the world in human history. New and formidable partnerships have been forged across the healthcare sector to hasten the discovery, manufacturing, and delivery of cutting-edge innovations. In the pharmaceutical industry, scientists continue to work around the clock to develop and test new vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics and innovation is unfolding at unprecedented levels producing what previously would have taken decades in a fraction of the time.    

As advancements are made in finding vaccines and therapies to address Covid-19, the topic of global access is rightfully taking centre stage, because simply developing these innovations is not enough: they need to be made available to the world’s population.  

To ensure that there is equitable access to the vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics needed to end the pandemic, a number of member companies of the Innovative Pharmaceutical Association of South Africa (Ipasa) along with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation recently signed an unprecedented communiqué pledging to fight against Covid-19 collectively.    

Ipasa members are already making good on this pledge by working to ensure access to a broad array of lifesaving products. A shining example can be found in Johnson & Johnson, which will allocate up to 500-million doses of its vaccine candidate, should it prove safe and effective, to lower-income countries, with delivery beginning mid-2021. The vaccine will be provided at a global not-for-profit basis for emergency pandemic use.   

Amgen is involved in a global antibody manufacturing collaboration to significantly increase the supply capacity available for potential Covid-19 therapies intended to benefit low- and middle-income countries. 

Novartis is making 15 drugs that treat key symptoms of Covid-19 available to low- and lower-middle income countries at zero profit until a vaccine or curative treatment is found. 

In addition to this, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has also entered into an agreement with rapid diagnostic test producers Abbott and SD Biosensor to make available affordable, high-quality Covid-19 antigen rapid tests for low- and middle-income countries – a remarkable move that will enable expansion of testing and provide results within 15-30 minutes. These are all examples of groundbreaking collaboration within the healthcare sector to fight Covid-19. 

Collaboration towards achieving global access will not only help end the pandemic that has claimed the lives of more than a million people worldwide and upended our sense of normalcy, but it will also lay the groundwork for a healthier, more secure world. 

Our best and brightest are rising to the occasion and meeting this challenge head-on. By working together as social partners, we can harness their ingenuity and creativity to ensure equitable access and that the world is better prepared for future outbreaks.  

In addition to ensuring global access, as social partners we must work together to build and maintain public confidence in medical and scientific innovations, develop the infrastructure needed to deliver vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics, as well as implement regulatory processes to speed up access to new tools.  

Already, many Ipasa member companies involved in the search for new vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics have started engagements with governments across sub-Saharan Africa, including South Africa, to understand how they can support their national Covid-19 response and strategies.  

Global access is monumentally complex, and far beyond the power or responsibility of any one organisation to deliver. It requires governments, industry, NGOs, and others to combine resources and diverse toolboxes. Responsibility cannot be abdicated to one group or another, it is the moral duty of everyone to unite in order to make equitable access a reality.  

Let us bridge the gaps and continue to fight Covid-19 together.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Mail & Guardian.

Subscribe to the M&G

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.

Bada Pharasi
Bada Pharasi is chief operations officer of the Innovative Pharmaceutical Association of South Africa (Ipasa)

Related stories

China’s resource-for-infrastructure deals

Are RFIs a viable model for aiding Africa’s economic development?

Covid vaccines: Hope balanced with caution

As Covid vaccines near the manufacturing stage, a look at two polio vaccines provides valuable historical insights

Covid-19 vaccines offer hope as world leaders plan for future

Hopes over Covid-19 vaccines have given a boost to virus-weary citizens across the globe, but the disease remains rampant and world leaders are urging people to be patient

Business schools need to mimic new reality

With most corporates effectively having their staff work remotely, educators will need to match and exceed this if they are to do more than just survive

Virtual world left out of policy on universities’ international collaboration

The pandemic has underlined the need for effective research, teaching and learning through virtual platforms regardless of travel restrictions

There is no honour in leaking a matric exam paper

Those involved in the breach must be ‘dealt with swiftly and harshly’

Subscribers only

Covid-19 surges in the Eastern Cape

With people queuing for services, no water, lax enforcement of mask rules and plenty of partying, the virus is flourishing once again, and a quarter of the growth is in the Eastern Cape

Ace prepares ANC branches for battle

ANC secretary general Ace Magashule is ignoring party policy on corruption-charged officials and taking his battle to branch level, where his ‘slate capture’ strategy is expected to leave Ramaphosa on the ropes

More top stories

General Counsel of the Bar slams Zuma Foundation

Another summons has been served on Jacob Zuma at his Nkandla residence, requiring the former president to appear before the Zondo Commission next year

CR17 report is not perfect, but the investigation was rational,...

So says public protector Busisiwe Mkwhebane’s lawyer, who said she had reason to suspect the money was being laundered through the campaign

‘We struggle for water, but power stations and coal mines...

A proposed pipeline will bring water polluted with Gauteng’s sewage to the Waterberg in Limpopo to boost the coal industry during the climate crisis

Journey through anxious Joburg

A new book has collected writing about the condition of living, yes, with a high crime rate, but also other, more pervasive existential urban stresses particular to the Global South

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…