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EDITORIAL. Time for mRNA vaccine equality across the globe to save more lives. by Peter A. Jensen, CEO & Chairman, Normax

EDITORIAL. European Pharmaceutical Manufacturer – 8 September 2022

Peter Jensen, CEO and Chairman, Normax delves into why it’s time for mRNA vaccine equality to be established across the globe. He also goes on to explain how mRNA vaccines can help drive down the costs of vaccines, save more lives and support the long-term sustainable battle against future pandemics world-wide.

Key insights:

  • The evolution and spread of viruses is an everlasting accepted phenomenon which must be controlled, for common safety and prosperity.
  • A more affordable and scalable mRNA vaccine strategy is needed to help solve the urgent global demand for effective COVID-19 boosters and other vaccines, save lives, and support innovation and investment in future pandemic prevention.
  • To deal with the threat of future pandemics is to protect everybody everywhere – that means ensuring vaccine equality so that all citizens are in the queue for a potential vaccine.

Three things are certain in life: death, taxes, and pathogens. However, diseases don’t have to be. If post pandemic has shown us anything, pathogens have the power to change our lives forever. It is more important than ever to protect people and animals from infectious diseases as COVID-19 has proven it has no enemies. Thus, resulting in almost 20 million deaths and $28 trillion in economic cost.

Even now, the coronavirus pandemic is certainly not over. New variants are continuing to evolve. Bill Gates – who in 2015 predicted the threat of a global pandemic – recently warned that “the worst” of COVID-19 could still be yet to come. For example, the immune escape of the most recent BA.5 variant has caused reinfection of COVID and increased hospitalisations and deaths across the world.

Scientists now agree that the world will never get to zero-COVID. It has got the same status as the common cold in terms of always reigniting. The evolution and spread of viruses is an everlasting accepted phenomenon which must be controlled, for common safety and prosperity. This summer we have seen the emergence of MonkeyPox a global emergency; declared by The World Health Organization. Additionally, there has been preliminary findings of two Marburg virus cases in Ghana, which is producing the nation to prepare for a potential outbreak of the rare, and deadly disease.

While future viral outbreaks, like Coronavirus, are inevitable, pandemics are not – if we prepare now to control outbreaks. Clearly, the healthcare community, governments and industry must remain vigilant to prevent future outbreaks. Together, we must develop and invest in a fast, scalable and affordable systematic pandemic preparedness plan to treat and to protect everybody from future outbreaks.

At Normax, it is our mission to develop an affordable approach to mRNA vaccines to help drive down the cost of vaccines, save more lives and support the long-term sustainable battle against future pandemics. We aim to deliver up to 100 novel mRNA Vaccines and 100 Vax Factories in 50 countries.

Vaccine inequality’s state of play

The recent coronavirus pandemic has shown the power of our global pharma and scientific systems. To develop a new mRNA vaccine for COVID in less than a year and roll it out around the world is a extraordinary achievement. Nevertheless, this also highlights intense inequalities in our current manufacturing and supply that need addressing.

According to the WHO COVID vaccine equity programme, 56 countries around the world – most of them in Africa – are effectively excluded from the global vaccine marketplace due to the large costs driven by the pharmaceutical industry.

In fact, figures from vaccine equality campaign Our World in Data show that just 19.7% of people in low-income countries have received even one dose of the COVID vaccine. That’s compared to a rate of nearly three in four people who are fully vaccinated in high-income nations – like the UK and France.

The international target to vaccinate 70% of the world’s population against Covid by mid-2022 was missed because lower-income poorer countries were at the “back of the queue” when vaccines were rolled out. This impacts us all.

Pathogens will keep transmitting, human to human, unless we control them. That means new viruses represent an existential threat to humanity. And the only way to deal with the threat is to protect everybody everywhere. That means ensuring vaccine equality so that all citizens are in the queue for a potential vaccine.

The cost of global healthcare must be a balanced act

A vital part of the reason for such vaccine inequality between high- and low-income countries is the cost of medicine. World governments and health organisations are paying too high a price for mRNA vaccines. Currently, leading COVID mRNA vaccine producers charge governments $20-$35 per dose.

A more affordable, and scalable mRNA vaccine strategy is needed to help solve the urgent global demand for effective COVID-19 boosters and other vaccines, save lives, and support innovation and investment in future pandemic prevention. Realistically, safe, effective and affordable mRNA vaccines can be delivered at scale for $4 per dose.

eyond COVID, around 1.4 million people die every year from tuberculosis (TB). The WHO estimates that $13 billion is needed annually for prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care of those with TB. In fact, the global cost of TB is estimated at $66 billion and the global cost of HIV is also estimated at $66 billion.

COVID is a compelling example of how safe and effective mRNA vaccines have helped to save lives and control the pandemic. Now it’s possible to do the same with a new vaccine for TB, which particularly impacts developing economies. According to the WHO, two thirds of all TB cases come from just eight countries, including India, Pakistan, the Philippines and Nigeria. For a TB-mRNA vaccine, a price tag of higher than $4 would mean it is out of reach for those who need it the most.

The Normax GOAL 2050 is a new initiative to end the transmission of TB and HIV by 2050. To achieve this goal we must deliver affordable testing, tracing, treatment, vaccines swiftly to democratise global vaccine distribution.

Agility is key to affordable vaccines

Diseases do not have to reach a pandemic stage, whereas pathogens are inevitable. We must act now. This is the time for global healthcare systems to embrace a more affordable and nimble method to mRNA vaccines to democratise admission to vaccines and healthcare on a global scale.

There was a time where safe, effective, and affordable vaccines were seen a myth. However, at Normax these can be delivered in record time for infectious diseases and are indispensable for saving our futures.

2022-10-26T14:25:27+00:00
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