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Good afternoon, this is Kerry Africa editor of Health Policy Watch, bringing you Geneva Solutions’ health newsletter, where today we focus on Covax.

During the 1990s, I lived in the city at the world’s epicentre of HIV – Durban on South Africa’s east coast. Antiretroviral medicine was unaffordable outside of Western countries. There were four funeral homes on my short route to work, and a proliferation of quacks peddling AIDS “cures”.

Today, Covid-19 is mowing through my country and continent and my social media feeds are filled with RIP notices. Yet life for friends in the US and Europe is returning to normal thanks to widely available Covid-19 vaccines which are still out of reach for most African countries despite platitudes from Western leaders and unmet promises by Covax.

Below, we look at where the global initiative went wrong and speak to Geneva experts on restoring faith in Covax, whilst also celebrating Pfizer and BioNTech news on their future Covid-19 vaccines manufacturing endeavours, scheduled to start in South Africa next year.

photo journaliste

Kerry Cullinan


Global health news

Photo article

Boxes of Covid-19 vaccine provided through the Covax global initiative arrive at the airport in Mogadishu, Somalia. The Biden administration plans to provide 500 million shots purchased from Pfizer to 92 lower income countries and the African Union over the next year through the UN-backed Covax programme. (Keystone/AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh, File)

😷 As Covid-19 echoes the AIDS pandemic, Africa’s faith in Covax frays. In March, the Covax facility, an equitable vaccines sharing scheme failed to deliver on its promises to the African Union when its main supplier, the Serum Institute of India (SII), halted deliveries outside the country due to spikes in domestic cases. Out of the promised 700 million Covid-19 vaccine doses, the scheme has delivered 25 million. This deep dive looks at where Covax went wrong.

Geneva Solutions (EN)

⚕️ Future hope for Covax? Speaking Marcela Vieira, access to medicines and innovation expert at the Graduate Institute’s Global Health Centre, she tells Geneva Solutions what Covax’s role is in ending the pandemic and some of the challenges the facility faces when taking on this role.

Geneva Solutions (EN)

💉 Pfizer-BioNTech to start producing Covid-19 vaccines in South Africa. Pfizer and BioNTech announced on Wednesday they will start manufacturing their Covid-19 vaccine in South Africa in 2022 in a collaboration with Cape Town-based Biovac; The landmark agreement is the first to produce the highly efficacious mRNA vaccine in Africa for Africans.

Health Policy Watch (EN)

Here’s what else is happening

Image of the day

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People pass a Covid-19 information banner in Geneva, Switzerland. (Salvatore Di Nolfi)

📝 All pandemic governance information in one place. Deemed the first time of its kind, The Global Health Centre at the Graduate Institute has launched a new platform to gather and disseminate information needed to kick the current pandemic to the curb and respond to future crises. Often swamped with information, this new platform aims to help policymakers, civil society and academics shoulder the burden.

Geneva Solutions (EN)

Next on the agenda

📍27 July | Access to nutrition through the workplace: leveraging the private sector As part of the UN Foods Systems Pre-Summit events, the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition will hold this event exploring how workforce nutrition programmes play a role in addressing global malnutrition, and also provide ways in which these can be scaled up for increased impact.


📍28 July | High level global talk show: Hepatitis can’t wait To mark World Hepatitis Day, the World Health Organization is hosting a global talk show providing a platform for policy makers, communities and other stakeholders to discuss opportunities for accelerating the hepatitis response to achieve elimination by 2030.


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