Africa CDC, CEPI sign MOU to enhance African preparedness against disease outbreaks

May 29, 2024

The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to expand their partnership to strengthen epidemic and pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response in Africa.

The signing of the MOU, which was done on the sidelines of the 77th World Health Assembly, was made known in a press statement posted on Africa CDC’s website on Tuesday.

United by a shared mission, the organisations will collaborate to boost regional vaccine research, development, and sustainable manufacturing leadership and capabilities in Africa, fostering a faster and more equitable response to emerging infectious diseases.

Africa CDC’s Director General, Dr Jean Kaseya, stated, “The New Public Health Order calls to action to build resilient health systems capable of managing recurrent, high-impact infectious disease and outbreaks; an action-oriented partnership such as this is at the core.

“This collaboration with CEPI in research, clinical trials, and local manufacturing of medical countermeasures will elevate Africa’s readiness against outbreaks, epidemics, and pandemics, thus consolidating the continent’s preparedness far beyond where we were prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

CEPI’s Chief Executive Officer, Richard Hatchett, added, “African leadership and capabilities will be key for ensuring the continent can respond to increasingly frequent infectious disease outbreaks.

“The preparatory work to manage these outbreaks—from greater vaccine manufacturing capacity to clinical trial readiness—must be undertaken now. CEPI stands ready to support Africa CDC in the realisation of these goals and to further strengthen Africa’s preparedness and resilience against future outbreaks.”

In line with the African Union’s ambition to produce 60 per cent of the continent’s vaccine needs in Africa by 2040 under the Africa CDC’s Partnerships for African Vaccine Manufacturing; the expanded partnership will ultimately focus its efforts on enhancing research and development, building a workforce as well as supply chain optimization to support resilient health systems, according to the statement.

This ambition will increase vaccine sovereignty and reduce external reliance, helping prevent a recurrence of the vaccine inequity seen during the COVID-19 response in Africa, it added.

“To boost vaccine accessibility and efficiency and meet this goal, there is a need to invest in vaccine R&D and manufacturing innovations, amongst others, and build a resilient regional supply chain. To that end, Africa CDC and CEPI will coordinate to fund innovations accelerating speed, scale, or accessibility for initial implementation with African manufacturers.

“This investment will support sustainable manufacturing for routine vaccinations in Africa, and—in the event of an outbreak—these facilities can be mobilized to produce response vaccines promptly.

“In alignment with Africa CDC, the partnership also aims to bolster Africa’s research ecosystem and clinical trial infrastructure, including targeted capacity strengthening through CEPI’s Research Preparedness Program—which, directed by regional experts, aims to build capacity for conducting high-quality Phase three efficacy trials,” the statement said.

It also said building on existing clinical trial capability in some African countries is vital as vaccine candidates against endemic diseases, such as Lassa fever, progress into late-stage development.

“Phase three trials provide essential data required for vaccine approval and must take place in regions where the disease is prevalent. A CEPI-funded Phase Two trial for a Lassa fever vaccine candidate is already underway; it is crucial that if this candidate, or another, is successful, there is regional capability to further its path toward licensure. Once established, this capability can benefit other regional actors advancing to late-stage research.

“The organisations will also collaborate to enhance vaccine safety protocols, biosecurity, pathogen surveillance, investment in capacity building, and other areas that help ensure overall African readiness for emergency vaccine responses.

“Africa CDC and CEPI are committed to this cooperation, which will strengthen collaboration and deliver tangible results to deliver Africa’s long-term health security ambitions,” it concluded.


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