• COVID-19 preparedness: capacity to manufacture vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics in sub-Saharan Africa

      Bright, B.; Babalola, C.P.; Sam-Agudu, N.A.; Onyeaghala, A.A.; Olatunji, A.; Aduh, U.; Sobande, P.O.; Crowell, T.A.; Tebeje, Y.K.; Phillip, S.; et al. (Springer Nature, 2021-03-03)
      Objective: The COVID-19 pandemic is a biosecurity threat, and many resource-rich countries are stockpiling and/or making plans to secure supplies of vaccine, therapeutics, and diagnostics for their citizens. We review the products that are being investigated for the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of COVID-19; discuss the challenges that countries in sub-Saharan Africa may face with access to COVID-19 vaccine, therapeutics, and diagnostics due to the limited capacity to manufacture them in Africa; and make recommendations on actions to mitigate these challenges and ensure health security in sub-Saharan Africa during this unprecedented pandemic and future public-health crises. Main body: Sub-Saharan Africa will not be self-reliant for COVID-19 vaccines when they are developed. It can, however, take advantage of existing initiatives aimed at supporting COVID-19 vaccine access to resource-limited settings such as partnership with AstraZeneca, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness and Innovation, the Global Alliance for Vaccine and Immunisation, the Serum Institute of India, and the World Health Organization's COVID-19 Technology Access Pool. Accessing effective COVID-19 therapeutics will also be a major challenge for countries in sub-Saharan Africa, as production of therapeutics is frequently geared towards profitable Western markets and is ill-adapted to sub-Saharan Africa realities. The region can benefit from pooled procurement of COVID-19 therapy by the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in partnership with the African Union. If the use of convalescent plasma for the treatment of patients who are severely ill is found to be effective, access to the product will be minimally challenging since the region has a pool of recovered patients and human resources that can man supportive laboratories. The region also needs to drive the local development of rapid-test kits and other diagnostics for COVID-19. Conclusion: Access to vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics for COVID-19 will be a challenge for sub-Saharan Africans. This challenge should be confronted by collaborating with vaccine developers; pooled procurement of COVID-19 therapeutics; and local development of testing and diagnostic materials. The COVID-19 pandemic should be a wake-up call for sub-Saharan Africa to build vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics manufacturing capacity as one of the resources needed to address public-health crises. Copyright 2021, The Author(s).