BRICS Nations To Set Up Virtual Early Warning Vaccine Research & Development Centre

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By Chris Devonshire-Ellis

Facility will cover 70% of the global population once specific members regional trade blocs are taken into consideration

The BRICS member states (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) intend to establish a joint vaccine research and development center in a virtual format due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, according to the joint statement released following the BRICS health ministers’ meeting yesterday.

The statement reads: “We recall the proposal of establishment of a ‘BRICS Vaccine Research and Development Centre’ in the Moscow Declaration 2020. Given the non-feasibility of an in-person collaboration in view of the ongoing pandemic scenario and in order to sustain the momentum for collaboration towards research and development of vaccines, we will undertake the launch of ‘BRICS Vaccine Research and Development Centre’ in a virtual format.”

The BRICS members noted that they are deeply concerned about the need for fair and equitable access to safe, efficacious, and affordable vaccines for COVID-19 to curtail the pandemic, and they pledge to make concerted efforts to deliver on the BRICS leaders’ commitment to extensive immunization as a global public.

“We understand the need to institute an BRICS Integrated Early Warning System for preventing mass infectious diseases risks,” the statement said. “We are interested in a collaboration through institutional multidisciplinary network public council comprising of the leading epidemiologists, infectious diseases specialists, bacteriologists and virologists in BRICS countries to cease threatening high-risk pathogens before progression to a pandemic,” according to the document.

Moreover, the BRICS recognized the necessity of setting upgraded lab facilities for genome sequencing of the pathogens and an enhanced data sharing mechanism of genome sequencing.

The BRICS health ministers acknowledged “the value and importance of traditional and alternative systems of medicine as means of achieving comprehensive healthcare” and noted “the need of experience and knowledge-sharing for securing public health needs.”

Of the BRICS nations, India has the world’s largest vaccine production capability, while China and Russia possess significant viral research facilities and are upgrading and improving production capability. Brazil and South Africa have the largest production capabilities in Latin America and the African continent respectively. All are additionally members of significant free trade blocs, with Brazil the lead member of the Latin American Mercosur, Russia the lead of the Eurasian Economic Union, India the lead member of SAARC,  China a member of the upcoming RCEP East Asian bloc, and South Africa a lead member of AfCFTA. Together these blocs represent about 70% of the global population.

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