Vaccine producers promise equal access in future pandemics

COVID-19 vaccine key players back a new proposal ensuring vaccines for future pandemics are equally distributed to all priority populations.

Illustration of diverse population in masks

Three trade bodies representing vaccine creators and manufacturers are endorsing The Berlin Declaration framework, a proposal that outlines how the industry would reserve an allocation of real-time vaccine production for swift distribution to priority populations in lower-income countries in future pandemics.

The Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), Developing Countries Vaccine Manufacturers’ Network (DCVMN) and the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) want faster manufacturing scale up of the vaccines. They are supporting G7 and G20 discussions to suggest a practical solution to equality of distribution of vaccines in future pandemics.

For the proposal to be successful, they suggest health systems in lower-income countries must be better prepared to deliver vaccines. Therefore, high income countries must assist by providing the essential political and financial support required.

In a meeting hosted by DCVMN titled ‘Global Equity & Timely Access: COVID-19 and Beyond’, the trade bodies announced that they would join forces to support the “biopharmaceutical industry vision for equitable access in pandemics” which was introduced in Berlin in July 2022.

The groups state the following factors are necessary for smooth vaccine roll out for future pandemics:

  • Collaboration
  • A geographically diverse, sustainable manufacturing footprint
  • Rapid scaling-up supply mechanisms.

To enable efficient scale up and global supply, the organisations agreed to enhance existing manufacturing partnerships, the advance set up of business-to-business agreements, continual capability development and voluntary licensing, in addition to early or voluntary technology transfer. Furthermore, removing exportation regulatory and trade barriers are critical to allowing the steps to take place.

Since the pandemic, the involved parties have helped to produce over 15 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines. In 2020, 11 billion were made. The World Health Organization (WHO) COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) reserved one billion doses for distribution to low-income countries.

Over 350 business-to-business partnerships facilitated the scale-up. Voluntary licenses and technology transfers were fundamental to the process. While these large-scale efforts were successful in navigating the high demand of these products, vaccine manufacturers recognise equitable access was not fully accomplished.