Tackling Africa’s vaccine access through research

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The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the International Vaccine Institute (IVI) announced a new clinical research program seeking to expand COVID-19 vaccine access in Africa Tuesday, July 20.
Led by IVI, the Expanding Access and Delivery of COVID-19 Vaccines in Africa (ECOVA) consortium will conduct clinical trials of Sinopham’s BBIBP-CorV vaccine in hopes to expand its use in Africa. CEPI will provide up to USD$12.7 million in funding to ECOVA as funding for these trials.
“To end the pandemic as quickly as possible, it is vital to evaluate vaccines in a variety of populations and contexts, and to ensure safe and effective vaccines are available to countries everywhere,” said Dr. Florian Marks, Deputy Director General of Epidemiology, Public Health and Impact at IVI.
ECOVA will hold two clinical trials in Beira and Maputo, Mozambique, led by Mozambique’s Instituto Nacional de Saúde (INS) and IVI. The first interim results from the trials are expected by the end of 2021.
The trials will evaluate the effect of BBIBP-CorV against new strains of the virus, including the Beta and Delta variants, vaccination strategies using two doses, and the use of COVID-19 vaccines on HIV-positive individuals.
“The ECOVA project will be of great importance to Mozambique, further developing the country’s clinical trial capacity that has been established in the past decade,” said Dr. Sónia Enosse, Director of Research on Health and Wellbeing at INS.
African countries have experienced a severe shortage of COVID-19 vaccines, with people living in Africa being only 1.6% of the vaccinated population worldwide. The African nation with the greatest percentage of vaccinated citizens, Morocco, has 30% of the total population receiving at least one dose according to Our World in Data. The majority of African nations are not close to this number, with the second highest percentage at 7% for a number of countries and a majority between 6% and below 1%.
ECOVA is led by IVI, INS, the International Centre for Diarrhoel Disease Research in Bangladesh, the University of Heidelberg in Germany, Harvard University in the U.S., and the University of Antananarivo in Madagascar.