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Vaccine-makers from developing countries support IFPMA proposal on pandemic readiness

Biotech firms’ trade body also endorses the proposal


Two trade platforms representing biotech firms and vaccine-makers from the developing countries, respectively, have cast their lot with a strategy for pandemic-preparedness, proposed by the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA), a platform of big pharmaceutical companies.

The Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) and the Developing Countries Vaccine Manufacturers’ Network (DCVMN) have agreed to jointly endorse the ‘Berlin Declaration Framework’, proposed by IFPMA, in July. The proposal outlines strategies, including reserving an allocation of real-time production of vaccines for distribution to priority populations in lower-income countries for future global pandemics, said a joint note. The endorsement of the proposal was made following the recently-concluded annual meeting of DCVMN in Pune.

Rajinder Suri, DCVMN Chief Executive, told businessline the strategy involved multiple approaches, including allocating a percentage of production for priority populations, diversifying manufacturing (and looking at end-to-end supplies involving raw-material, packaging), training people to handle biological products, and nudging governments to prepare the ecosystem to absorb new technologies for production or distribution. DCVMN represents 43 vaccine-makers including India’s Serum Institute, Bharat Biotech, Biological E and Panacea Biotec, for instance.

The industry proposal comes against the backdrop of vaccine inequities that are witnessed across the world, as some developed countries go into multiple booster doses for their citizens, even as other regions have sparse coverage due to limited vaccine supplies. “There were unprecedented disturbances and the low and middle income countries faced the brunt,” said Suri, adding that there were learnings for all on being prepared for the next pandemic.

The three trade bodies also called on the G7 and G20 members and multilateral organizations to accept and include this proposal in their future pandemic preparedness response plans, “whilst impressing upon governments that for the proposal to succeed the health systems in lower-income countries need to be better prepared to absorb and deliver vaccines and treatments, while high income countries need to provide the necessary political and financial support”.

Almost 16 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines have been produced, the organisations said. “In the first year of the pandemic 11 billion were produced of which 1 billion were specifically directed to COVAX for distribution to lower income countries,” they said, pointing to about 350 partnerships, in the form of voluntary licenses and technology transfers.

Responding to queries on quality concerns, as cross-country and company collaborations get forged, he said with vaccines the concept was “quality by design”, which is why there were limited number of vaccine-producers.