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AfDB urges intellectual property waiver for COVID-19 vaccine production in Africa

In terms of immediate options on how we can do it, we need to push for waivers in intellectual property rights over things that are already produced, to allow for reproduction of  those vaccines in other countries.

 

By Ifeanyi Nwoko

 

The African development Bank (AfDB) has tasked African nations to immediately commence the production of COVID-19 Vaccines as a move towards attaining herd immunity and creating jobs.

 

Prof. Kevin Urama, a Chief Economist and Vice President of the Bank, said in an interview with the News agency of Nigeria (NAN) that Africa needs to push for intellectual property waivers to begin reproduction of existing vaccines.

 

Speaking on the sidelines of the just concluded Africa Economic Summit which held in a hybrid format, Urama said that Africa must step up to the rest of the World so that it is not left behind.

 

He added that the only way out of the pandemic was to find vaccines that are accessible to everyone and affordable by everyone.

 

He stressed that universal access to vaccines is fundamental, especially as the pandemic continues with several mutations being witnessed.

 

“In terms of immediate options on how we can do it, we need to push for waivers in intellectual property rights over things that are already produced, to allow for reproduction of  those vaccines in other countries.

 

“African governments need to encourage franchising: we don’t have to do it ourselves, but we need to create the policy environment that will allow the companies that own those vaccines Astrazenica, Pfizer, and the rest of them to establish plants in Africa and produce those vaccines in Africa.

 

“This will not only solve the health challenges but it will also create jobs, boost income, boost domestic revenue – everything that industrialization will do,” he said.

 

He said that Africa should not hesitate in investing in vaccine production, pointing out that apart from holding over 25 per cent of the World’s bio diversity, Africans were involved in developing the current vaccines being used.

 

He added that the continent also had trained scientists and as such challenged the nations to scale up their efforts.

 

 

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“Africa needs to invest in smart Health Infrastructure, Africa needs to invest in producing the vaccines and Africa can do it and there are several innovative policies that can allow us to do more,” he said.

 

The AfDB VP also pointed the continent to its potent traditional medicines which he noted were used many years ago to cure all kinds of sicknesses.

 

He said that Africa can utilize modern scientific knowledge to find the Active ingredients that were doing the miracles.

 

 

“In Addition, we also need to look into our traditional medicine options: all those herbs that our forefathers had been using to cure diseases, can’t we bring our modern scientific knowledge to try and find what those active ingredients are that were doing those miracles.

 

“Then we will be able to formalise them or even do as some countries have been doing: create rights or patents or licenses for people to produce those medical solutions and scale them.

 

“Should the African development bank be backing it: Yes!

 

“The African Development Bank is working with its board of directors and management to think around how to develop its strategy for investing in smart health infrastructure on the continent,” he said.

 

Urama stressed that it was an area that needed the support of everyone, adding that the pandemic should have taught Africa a vital lesson that sometimes, live in a pandemic, money cannot get you the best healthcare in the world.

 

He said that the lessons learnt should spur Africa to develop its own health infrastructures.

 

“So the need for investing in smart health infrastructure is huge. But this is not to think of health as we used to think of it that health is for only when you get sick,” he added. (NAN)