The EU plans to throw its weight behind a push to expand vaccine manufacturing in Africa after the coronavirus pandemic has underscored a need to broaden the production of life saving jabs. The EU move comes as the coronavirus crisis adds urgency to longstanding efforts to cut African countries’ dependence on imports of drugs to combat deadly diseases that ravage the continent. The bloc is also keen to promote initiatives to increase international vaccine production, which it argues is a better way to improve poor nations’ access to Covid-19 vaccines than the patent waivers proposed by the US this month. The EU’s contribution could include both direct EU aid and funding from national development agencies and the European Investment Bank, European officials said. Alongside the funding, which could extend into the hundreds of millions of euros, Brussels wants to help build up regulatory capacity, including the establishment of the African Medicines Agency — a continent wide drug regulator that was conceived in 2014 but has yet to get off the ground. The alliance had three sites in mind for future manufacturing centres, she added — the Institut Pasteur in Senegal, Rwanda and South Africa. The European Commission, the EIB and several EU member states including Germany and France are already supporting the expansion of the Institut Pasteur. European officials also see prospects for boosting manufacturing in other countries, including Egypt.
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