The ability of African countries to mount effective and equitable responses to COVID-19 reflects in part the access that countries have to reliable, sustained, distributed supplies of diagnostics (antigen and antibody test kits and equipment for decentralised laboratories) and health technologies (personal protective equipment (PPEs), oxygen and constant positive airway pressure equipment). As medicines and vaccines are developed and approved for COVID-19 they too need to be available at mass scale and locally distributed. Currently, African countries, like many others, face shortfalls in all of these essential commodities relative to need. Various global, multilateral and bilateral arrangements have been proposed to address innovation in and access to these technologies. This brief shares information on initiatives related to diagnostics, health technologies, medicines and vaccines, the issues for African countries and options for addressing them in the dialogue and negotiations at global fora. It covers African interests and options in relation to (i) securing solidarity-based bilateral and multilateral resource streams for supply needs; (ii) using existing TRIPS flexibilities (iii) enabling open innovation and sharing of intellectual property and (iv) enabling open manufacturing and distributed and local production of these technologies. The pressure is thus growing for all COVID-19 related drugs, diagnostics, vaccines and health products, existing or future, to be considered global public goods, as expressed by the UN Secretary General on 24 April. At the same time, the brief argues that the way to make these products available to everyone, everywhere, must be by structurally linking open innovation and open manufacture to distributed production and access. Current experience suggests that any other approach may fall short on delivering timely and equitably distributed access for African countries.
Values, policies and rights, Health equity in economic and trade policies, Public-private mix, Governance and participation in health
Title of publication Brief: Securing COVID-19 related diagnostics, health technology, medicines and vaccines for African public health
Date of publication
COVID-19, health technology, medicine, vaccine, diagnostics, international, global health
East and southern Africa region
Equinet Publication Type