Focusing on skills development and retaining talent are some of the means by which Africa can meet a target of manufacturing up to 60% of vaccines locally by the year 2040.
Some of the top pharmaceutical company executives on the continent discussed its progress in vaccine manufacturing at an international conference which ended on Thursday.
After Aspen Pharmacare produced over 130 million Covid-19 vaccines in five months at its Gqeberha manufacturing site in the Eastern Cape, its senior executive Stavros Nicolaou said this showed the company was capable of meeting the 2040 goal.
“We can do this and that is why we have partnered with J&J (Johnson & Johnson). It is a significant game changer for the continent that we are going to manufacture our own vaccine,” Nicolaou said.
Nicolaou added that preparations for the next pandemic should be made before it hits and this means ensuring that there is sustainability and implementation of policies by the different governments.
The Biovac Institute is another South African company that has been focused on vaccine manufacturing, and its chief executive Dr Morena Makhoana believes Africa needs to take advantage of the foundation that has been laid since the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We need to have the momentum on vaccine manufacturing continue for as long as possible,” said Makhoana. “The 60% target is possible and we need to make sure that we convert the pandemic focus to a more routine outlook.”
The next three to five years will require the continent to ensure there is sustainable business beyond Covid-19, according to Makhoana.
It is also going to be critical to continue with the skills momentum that was built through the pandemic as well as ensuring that companies receive more support from governments.