Africa is now able to start clinical trials for Covid-19 vaccines after the African Union Commission officially launched the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention Consortium for Covid-19 Vaccine Clinical Trial (CONCVACT).
According to the commission, the CONCVACT aims to secure more than 10 late stage vaccine clinical trials “as early as possible on the continent”.
It aims to bring together global vaccine developers and funders, as well as African organisations that facilitate clinical trials.
“The goal is to ensure that sufficient data is generated on the safety and efficacy of the most promising vaccine candidates for the African population so they can be confidently rolled out in Africa once vaccines are approved,” states AU Commission in a release.
“It is critically important for academics, researchers and the private sector to work together and use all available platforms for the development of Covid-19 vaccine, which will enable Africa to regain momentum for achieving the goals of the continental integration agenda” said Moussa Faki Mahamat, the AU Commission Chairman.
According to the commission, rolling out a vaccine in Africa is key to limiting transmission of Covid-19, preventing deaths from it and “laying the foundation for socio-economic recovery that should bring Africa’s integration agenda back on track.”
And now the programme will be used to establish partnerships with leading vaccine developers to host select late-stage trial sites in Africa, identify countries and regions where opportunities to conduct trials are most promising.
The countries which will be considered most will have availability of strong local trial sponsors, good clinical practice investigators, and access to granular epidemiologic data and support from regulatory bodies.
CONCVACT will also set up an independent review board to provide guidance, assistance and oversight to clinical trials including regulatory, ethics and safety.
INCREASE PUBLIC AWARENESS
It will engage with African and global media and key opinion leaders on the continent to increase public awareness on the need and importance of hosting well-regulated clinical trials in Africa, provide objective, fact-based scientific guidance for interpreting the results of clinical trial data and engage “global donors that are interested in investing in scaling-up vaccine distribution in Africa to raise sufficient funds to support the trials.”
“Success in developing and providing access to a safe vaccine requires an innovative and collaborative approach, with significant local manufacturing in Africa. We need to support the contribution of African scientists and healthcare professionals. We need to act with urgency,” said South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is the chairman of the African Union and the president of South Africa.
CONCVACT came as a result of a virtual conference on Africa’s leadership role in Covid-19 vaccine development and access which was held between June 24 and 25, 2020.
It is being implemented as part of the Africa Joint Continental Strategy for Covid-19 which was endorsed by African ministers of health on February 22, 2020 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and approved was by the Bureau of the Assembly of African Union Heads of State and Government on March 26, 2020.
“There is urgent need for global solidarity, cooperation, and appropriate regulation to ensure equitable access to potential Covid-19 vaccine. The African Union will continue to partner with GAVI, WHO and other relevant stakeholders in the development of Covid-19 vaccine,” said Amira Elfadil Mohammed, commissioner for social affairs at the African Union Commission.
CONCVACT will be co-chaired by Dr Salim Abdool Karim, head of the Ministerial Advisory Committee for Covid-19 in South Africa, Dr Samba Sow, director-general, Centre for Vaccine Development of Mali and Dr John Nkengasong, director of Africa CDC.
Other members of the consortium will include representatives of key organisations supporting clinical trials on the continent including WHO, the Africa Academy of Sciences’ Clinical Trials Community, Institute Pasteur, African Vaccine Regulatory Forum, African Medicines Agency, Nepad and others.
“The African initiative to develop a vaccine against the new coronavirus is welcomed and encouraged. Through this initiative, Africa will be at the forefront as the world seeks to overcome the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Prof Moustafa Mijiyawa, Chairman of the Africa CDC governing board and minister of Health of Togo.