Expert insight

Interview – BBC World Business Report – Will a coronavirus vaccine reach the developing world?

17 September 2020
  • Thomas Cueni Director General

The biopharmaceutical industry has made addressing the pandemic its top priority, devoting its resources, expertise, know-how, and intellectual assets to developing potential treatments and vaccines at record speed, while committing to and engaging in unprecedented levels of international collaboration and coordination through initiatives such as ACT-AACTIV and CEPI to ensure equitable access to products being developed.

Thomas Cueni, Director General of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations, had the opportunity to share the biopharmaceutical industry’s point of view on BBC World Business Report  on 17 September 2020 “Will a coronavirus vaccine reach the developing world?”

I have never seen pharma vaccine manufacturers being faced with a challenge, so aligned, so united, partnering not only amongst themselves but also with biotech companies, universities, international organisations. When looking at the development of a vaccine we have a partnership with the COVAX Facility, which aims to bring COVID-19 vaccine to the world with the developed countries’ manufacturers network. Therefore, there is a unique togetherness which I have never seen before.

What is unique, and this will be a historic achievement, is that since the beginning we have the ACT Accelerated Tools Partnership, where you we have WHO, GAVI and CEPI together with the sector from industrialised, innovative, and developing countries, and they all committed to making sure that we do get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Two weeks ago I was fairly concerned that it would be possible, but I’m increasingly optimistic.  But it needs the buy-in from high-income countries (UK, EU, Japan), and we will see the result of this unique solidarity next Monday because the deadline for the rich countries to sign up to this unique effort of solidarity is tomorrow.

There needs to be an act of solidarity of richer countries who do underwrite and, in a way, cross subsidise the poorer countries. We’ve never had this to that extent in the past. I’m optimistic that we will see a significant level of solidarity.