Sat | Nov 26, 2022

Region to benefit from Canadian funding to strengthen manufacturing of vaccines

Published:Wednesday | November 23, 2022 | 12:13 AM
Dr Carissa Etienne.
Dr Carissa Etienne.


Canada is providing CAD$15 million towards a Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) initiative to increase vaccine production capacities in Latin America and the Caribbean.

“Canada is pleased to support PAHO’s innovative work to strengthen vaccine production capacities in Latin America and the Caribbean and to deepen our partnership on this critical issue for the region,” said Ambassador Hugh Adsett, Canada’s permanent representative to the Organization of American States (OAS).

Launched in 2021, PAHO said the Regional Platform to Advance the Manufacturing of COVID-19 Vaccines and other Health Technologies in the Americas, “aims to increase the region’s ability to respond more quickly and autonomously to health emergencies and to improve access to much needed vaccines, medicines and other medical supplies”.

PAHO’s Director Dr Carissa F. Etienne praised Canada “for this generous and timely contribution, which will be crucial in making the region better prepared for future challenges”.

PAHO said the COVID-19 health crisis uncovered major rifts in access to health care and exposed the region’s high dependence on imports for vaccines, medicines and other medical supplies.

It said countries with local production capacity were the first to benefit from COVID-19 vaccines, “but much of Latin America and the Caribbean had to wait for these to become available from centralised external manufacturers, leading to significant delays in the roll-out of campaigns to protect lives”.

Dr Etienne said that this disparity underscored the need to invest in efforts to diversify the production of vaccines and their components across countries while taking advantage of new health technologies, such as messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines that can be used beyond COVID-19.

Building on existing capacities in the region, PAHO said the initiative will support training and technology transfer, strengthen regional value chains to source the necessary components for vaccine manufacturing, and bolster regulatory systems and enabling functions for vaccines production.

As part of the PAHO effort, in September 2021 Bio-Manguinhos/FIOCRUZ in Brazil and Sinergium Biotech in Argentina were selected to be part of a technology transfer initiative for the development and production of mRNA-based vaccines in the region.