The feat is indisputable, but, unfortunately, not everyone benefits. In early June, less than six months after the start of the first vaccination campaigns, the milestone of two billion doses of Covid-19 vaccine, administered worldwide, was crossed. But sharing doses with poor countries remains a challenge, as in Africa, where supplies have almost stopped. As of June 4, the international Covax device has delivered 80 million doses to 129 countries and territories, far less than expected. Invited Wednesday from Europe 1, Stefan Bansel, CEO of Moderna Therapeutics, is therefore calling for “wider international collaboration,” but warns that a patent cancellation that some are claiming would be a false good idea.
How to give access to vaccines to the poorest countries? In his opinion, international cooperation should be more important, especially “in terms of the availability of vaccines against Covax.” For Europe 1, he insists on the importance of being able to export doses. However, “today we have a big problem with the beginning of the crisis, and the production of vaccines, for example, in the United States, we did not have the right to export, and therefore we are working with the American authorities to be able to export and help poor countries,” said is he.
“The financial aspect is not a brake”
And although Moderna vaccine is one of the most expensive, Stefan Bansel assures us that today “the financial aspect is not really an obstacle to access to vaccines in every country on the planet.” And, in particular, we will quote the World Bank, “which arranged for the Philippines to allocate funds for the purchase of vaccines.”
But can’t production be accelerated? “Manufacturing a vaccine using messenger RNA technology takes time,” recalls Stefan Bansel. “Messenger RNA is a new technology, so traditional factories that make small chemical molecules or that make vaccines using older technologies are completely inadequate. They don’t have the equipment or raw materials to make them. These are new vaccine technologies, ”he explains.
“It takes several months to build machines.”
And creating the right equipment takes time, “because we have a regulated profession.” And to illustrate: “The machines we buy to manufacture this product must be adapted to the new process. Then it takes several months to make them. When they are delivered, to ensure the safety of the products, we must conduct tests over several months to prove that the machine performs exactly the functions for which it was made and to ensure that the vaccine meets all safety and quality regulations to protect consumers. ” …
“The time it takes to design, manufacture, install and validate equipment, which takes 6 to 9 months, and the supply of raw materials,” inevitably takes time, he insists. In addition, he believes that the abolition of patents, at the request of Washington, will not accelerate the spread of vaccines in poor countries. “It will not add a dose of RNA messenger vaccine in 2021 and 2022 to help the planet,” says CEO of Moderna Therapeutics.