COVID-19 Cure Distribution Logistics Not IdealBy Pedro Alcalá | Fri, 05/29/2020 - 19:23
According to a report from the United Nations Conference On Trade And Development (UNCTAD), there are over 100 COVID-19 vaccine projects currently being developed all over the globe but only eight of them have entered clinical trials. This still represents a high hope for a breakthrough soon. However, there are no plans at the moment to manufacture and distribute the vaccine worldwide. Of course, existing healthcare inequities need to be taken into account. For example, according to that same report, WHO has registered almost half a million children deaths every year in sub-Saharan Africa from vaccine-preventable diseases.
This report describes that 40 vaccine manufacturers in 14 nations make up the Developing Countries Vaccine Manufacturers Network. To illustrate the asymmetrical distribution that this coverage represents, the report mentions that only one manufacturer is located in Africa. It is called the Biovac Institute, located in Cape Town, South Africa, and it currently delivers around 25 million doses of vaccines each year (for diseases already eradicated in many countries but not nearly all, such as measles, polio and tuberculosis) to a continent with a population of 1.2 billion. If you combine this with the fact that almost 80 countries have restricted their medical supply exports, the picture begins to become clear regarding the vulnerability of many nations, populations and communities.
Another UNCTAD publication quoted in a report by Opportimes details that the “international response to COVID-19 lacks an integral strategy that can guarantee the missing link between development and distribution, which is grand scale mass manufacturing.” While a country like Mexico might have enough national pharmaceutical manufacturing capabilities, the report speculates that we might be headed to a future where the logistics of a COVID-19 vaccine resemble the current logistics of PPE: a market characterized by shortages and frantic supply emergencies.