Executive Summary

The Kenya Association of Pharmaceutical Industry (KAPI) is a membership organization, established in the late 1960s, representing biopharmaceutical manufacturers (or their local representatives) that through research invent and develop medicines and technologies (e.g., Biopharmaceuticals, Vaccine Healthcare, Medical devices, Diagnostics) that significantly improve people’s lives. KAPI represents the industry voice and promotes efficiency in the pharmaceutical industry to ensure that medical products and healthcare technologies of the highest quality can be readily available for diagnosis, prevention and treatment of diseases.

Weekly Brief:

This is a roundup of news allied to the biopharmaceutical industry with a bearing on our mission to improve access to lifesaving health products and technologies for positive health outcomes.

  • Novartis commits to support CureVac in manufacturing its COVID-19 vaccine with an aim at accelerating production of vaccine shots. CureVac reported that the vaccine is in late-stage testing and results could be out as soon as next month. (Wall Street Journal |thepharmaletter | Novartis)
  • Researchers show potential benefits of delaying second mRNA COVID-19 vaccine dose. The second dose of the mRNA vaccine was tested 3 weeks from the first dose. In this study, the researchers created a model to investigate how population immunity would be affected if people delayed their second dose by 6 weeks, 3 months, or 6 months. (News Medical)
  • The South African COVID-19 variant seems to be dodging neutralizing therapies. A laboratory-developed pseudovirus containing the mutations found in the SARS-CoV-2 501Y.V2 variant (first detected in South Africa) was resistant to neutralization when exposed to three types of COVID-19 therapeutic antibodies or convalescent plasma. (Medical Xpress)
  • Ivermectin, a controversial anti-parasitic drug that has been touted as a potential Covid-19 treatment, does not speed recovery in people with mild cases of the disease, according to a randomized controlled trial published on Thursday in the journal JAMA. (New York Times)
  • WHO DG Dr Tedros in his opening remarks at Financing COVID-19 Vaccines for Africa – A whole-of-Africa approach to addressing vaccine access, delivery and uptake underscored the fact that the continent’s regional solidarity has been a vital part of the pandemic response. He further spoke to fostering closer working relationship between COVAX and African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team to ensure a rapid scale-up and distribution of vaccines in Africa. (WHO)
  • Gout medication colchicine will be tested in a large UK study looking into potential early-stage COVID-19 treatments and enrollment criteria was widened for the latest arm of the trial, University of Oxford researchers said on Wednesday. (Reuters)
  • Following the arrival of over 800 000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, Sudan became the first country in the Middle East and North Africa to receive COVID-19 vaccines via the COVAX Facility. (WHO EMRO)
  • The CEO of the Serum Institute of India, told a World Bank panel on Thursday that a US law blocking the export of certain key items, including bags and filters, will likely cause serious bottlenecks in the effort towards building capacity worldwide. (Bloomberg)
  • The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the lending arm of the World Bank, has issued a $100 million 5-year bond which both supports IBRD’s ongoing sustainable development and COVID-19 activities and adds a new feature to support similar efforts by UNICEF. The issuance will channel an amount equivalent to half of the total proceeds, $50 million, to UNICEF. This frontloading of financing to UNICEF will support its pandemic response programs for children around the world over the 5-year period. (World Bank)
  • South African authorities have seized about 2,400 doses of fake COVID-19 vaccines and masks coming from China following a global alert issued by INTERPOL warning vaccines would be a prime target for criminal networks. The trafficking case is the first confirmed instance of fake vaccines being smuggled across continents, and though there are likely more that have occurred, and more still that may be uncovered in the future. Interpol first issued a warning about such the potential for such crimes in early December, alerting law enforcement agents in its 194 member countries that criminal networks were trying to “infiltrate and disrupt supply chains” involved in the global rollout of vaccines to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. (Time |Interpol)
  • The WHO estimates that 100,000 people across the continent die every year from taking falsified or sub-standard medication. Individual countries in Africa have been taking steps to address the issue that has been exacerbated by the lack of legislation and weak healthcare systems. Now, seven African countries have come together in mid-January to form the Lomé Initiative seeking to tackle this problem, by committing to strengthen their international cooperation and enact national laws to criminalize the import, manufacture, distribution, and sale of fake medicines. The participating countries are the Republic of Congo, Gambia, Ghana, Niger, Senegal, Togo, and Uganda. (UN)
  • On Tuesday, Johnson & Johnson and MSD (known as Merck in the USA and Canada) announced an agreement in which the latter will support J&J in producing it’s COVID-19 vaccine, which recently received US FDA EUA. US President Biden hailed the development as an example of industry coming together for the common good as he pushes towards having enough vaccines available for every US adult by the end of May. The deal with MSD is focused on gearing up production for the second half of the year, said Biden administration officials, when booster shots are expected to need speedy manufacturing due to the looming threat of SARS-CoV-2 variants and supply needs in LMICs. (Washington Post)
  • The first COVID-19 vaccination campaigns in Africa using COVAX doses began 1 March in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. These campaigns are among the first to use doses provided by the COVAX Facility’s Gavi COVAX Advanced Market Commitment (AMC). (GAVI)

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