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Coronavirus – Africa: Virtual Conference on Africa’s Leadership Role in the Development and Access to Potential Covid-19 Vaccines 24th-25th June 2020

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Recognizing the urgent need for collaboration, cooperation, and coordination to ensure that Africa plays a leadership role in the development and access to potential vaccines, this two-day virtual conference, under the leadership of H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC), will bring together healthcare professionals, researchers, public health experts, policy makers, media, civil society, community and religious leaders, and industries to explore this topic and help develop a framework for COVID-19 vaccine development and access in Africa.

Background

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a viral disease caused by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). As of 16th of June 2020, the virus has infected over 7 million persons, with over 400,000 deaths globally. Africa is the least affected region globally, with 1.5% of the world’s reported COVID-19 cases and 0.1% of the world’s deaths, having reported >230, 000 cases with more than 6,000 deaths.

The present COVID-19 pandemic has serious health, security, and economic impact for the continent. Vaccines are a potent public health tools and Africa needs to actively engage in the development, evaluation and access to potential COVID-19 vaccine development, clinical trial, and define issues related to access. On 22nd February 2020, Africa developed a COVID-19 Joint Continental Strategy that has three pillars: 1) limit transmission, 2) prevent deaths, and 3) limit harm. This strategy is underpinned by the need to coordinate, cooperate, collaborate and communicate.  Continental collaboration and coordination will be critical for the development of an effective vaccine against COVID-19.

An effective vaccine will help save lives and economies and ensure that we return gradually to some sort of “normalcy” globally. As of 30 May 2020, 121 candidate vaccines products are being tested with 10 undergoing clinical evaluation. COVID-19 vaccine trials will certainly be carried out in Africa, under the highest ethical and safety standards.

A few weeks ago, the World Health Organization (WHO), successfully launched the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator. This initiative champions the shared commitment and partnership of global actors and stakeholders across sectors, to coordinate efforts to develop and provide equal access to COVID-19 testing, treatments, and vaccines around the world.

Africa’s leadership role will complement global investment in the enormous task and ensure that there will be access and equity to available vaccines. As such a continental framework is needed for large-scale manufacturing, clinical trials, and access to potential COVID-19 vaccines in Africa.

The need for Africa to develop a framework for the continent to actively engage in the development and access to potential effective COVID-19 vaccines was endorsed at the Bureau of the Assembly of the AU Heads of State and Government and chairperson of the AU RECs on 11th of June 2020.

As part of implementing the Africa’s Joint Continental Strategy to combat COVID-19, the Africa Union Commission and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) will host a virtual conference to discuss Africa’s leadership role in enabling the development, access and equity to a COVID-19 vaccine.

The overall goals of the conference will be to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic in Africa and the development and equitable access to vaccines as part of the COVID-19 Joint Continental Strategy to limit transmission, reduce deaths and limit harm. The expected outcome of the conference will be a framework for Africa’s leadership in the development and access of COVID-19 vaccines, which will help complement the WHO’s ACT Accelerator initiative. This demonstration of collaboration will help position Africa to better engage with key stakeholders to ensure equitable access to testing and vaccines for its citizens.

Objectives

  1. Discuss Africa’s contribution to the development and evaluation of safe and effective candidate vaccines for COVID-19, in a timely manner.
  2. Discuss the various aspects of access and equity to any potentially effective COVID-19 vaccines.
  3. Discuss strategies for community engagement to ensure uptake of any potential effective COVID-19 vaccines.

Expected Outcomes

  1. Agreed on a road map, with milestones, for Africa’s contribution to the development and evaluation of a safe and effective candidate vaccines for COVID-19, in a timely manner.
  2. Identify barriers and possible solutions to enable access and equity to any potentially available effective COVID-19 vaccines in Africa.
  3. Identified strategies for community engagement to ensure uptake of any potential effective COVID-19 vaccines

Participants

Approximately, 1,500 participants are expected to attend the Virtual Conference These are mainly:

  1. Policymakers from Ministers of States
  2. Health professionals
  3. Business leaders
  4. Civil Society and community leaders
  5. Researchers
  6. Vaccine manufacturers
  7. Chairperson of the African Union Commission
  8. Chairperson of the African Union
  9. Commissioner for Social Affairs
  10. Africa CDC

Date and Time

Wednesday 24 June 2020

2:00 – 6:00 PM East Africa Time

Thursday 25 June 2020

1:00 – 6:30 PM East African Time

Register in advance for the conference:

https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_xGSrwsbMQrWkP9ldx7B-rQ

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the conference.

Annex 1: Provisional Agenda

Draft Agenda– Africa’s leadership role in the development and Access to potential COVID-19 Vaccines

Wednesday 24th June 2020

  • Session I: Opening, Introduction and Goals
    • Welcome remarks by the AUC Chairperson
    • Remarks by the WHO Director-General
    • Opening remarks by the Chairperson of the African Union and the Republic of South Africa
    • Presentation of the objectives and expected outcomes of the conference by the Director, Africa CDC

  • Session II: Vaccine Development and Clinical Trials
    • Needs and requirement of Candidate Vaccine Clinical Trials in Africa
    • Candidate Vaccine Development from US National Institute of Health
    • Manufacturing of COVID-19 vaccines
    • Human Research, Science and Technology: AU Perspectives

  • Session III: Access and Equity of Potential COVID-19 Vaccine
    • What is needed for equitable access to COVID-19 in Africa?
    • Vaccine Manufacturing in Africa
    • Gender and access to COVID-19 Vaccine
    • Reflections of Vaccine Trials in Africa: Lessons from Ebola

  • Session IV: COVID-19 Vaccine: Ministerial Panel

Thursday 25th June 2020

  • Special Session I: Role of the Private Sector in COVID-19 Vaccine Development and Access
    • Advocacy for Potential COVID-19 Vaccine in Resource Limited Settings
    • Need for Private Sector Engagement
    • Financing to Achieve Vaccine Development
    • Financing Options for Potential COVID-19 Vaccines in Africa
    • Innovations to Enable Development and Access to COVID-19 Vaccine
    • Role of Gavi in Ensuring Access to COVID-19 Vaccine

  • Session V: COVID-19 Vaccine: Regulatory, Ethical and Community Engagement
    • Using Past Experience to Inform Thinking to Potential COVID-19 Vaccine Role of African Vaccines Regulatory Forum in COVID-19 Vaccine Development
    • Community Engagement Strategies for COVID-19
    • Good Participatory Practice Guidelines for Trials of Emerging (and Re-Emerging) Pathogens

  • Session VI: COVID-19 Vaccine: Anthropological, Sociological Perspectives and Delivery
  • Anthropology Needs for Update of COVID-19 Vaccines
  • Behavioural Science Needs for Update of COVID-19 Vaccines
  • Supply Logistics Needed in Africa in Preparation of Potential COVID-19 Vaccines

  • Special Session II: Communication and Civil Society
  • Role of Risk Communication in Vaccine Acceptance
  • Africa COVID-19 Vaccine Manufacturing Initiative
  • Closing Remarks and Way Forward

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of African Union (AU).

Media Contact:
Ms Sergut Dejene
sergut.dejene@gmail.com

Dr Mahlet Kifle Habtemariam
MahletKifle@africa-union.org


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