PEOPLE’S VACCINE ALLIANCE AFRICA Civil SOCIETY MEETING

People’s Vaccine Alliance Africa  Civil Society Meeting: April 30, 2021

Full transcript

Maaza Seyoum  00:23

Joab is an Addis today. Excellent Joab. I hope you’re having some good in injera and some good coffee.

Joab Okanda  00:33

Yeah, yeah, yeah, we are celebrating Easter. 

Maaza Seyoum  00:36

Yes. Are you based full time in Addis? I thought you were Nairobi Joab.

Joab Okanda  00:43

Yeah, I’m based full time in Nairobi but working from Addis this week. 

Maaza Seyoum  00:48

Okay, excellent. Yes, Mekonnen.  No, we can’t hear you, Mekonnen. I think your microphone is not working. You’re still on mute. Nope. We can’t hear you at all, Mekonnen. Yeah, he’s on mute. I’m seeing he has put a note here in the chat and wants to know if we can hear him. But we, unfortunately, can’t Mekonnen. Maybe you can log out and log back in.

Mekonnen Debel  01:40

Can you hear me? 

Maaza Seyoum  01:42

Yes. Yes. Mekonnen, selam. Amharic

Mekonnen Debel  01:48

Amharic

Maaza Seyoum  01:51

Thank you. Welcome. Thank you. Nice to have a fellow Habesha on the call. 

Okay. So, my colleague, Vivienne Naidoo, has been tracking all the registrations. And Viv, I know, told me that over 35 people had registered. We are at 19 participants now, but since we only have 90 minutes, I think we want just to get started. Viv, can you already share the presentation so we can see the agenda item for the day. Excellent. Can everyone see the slides? Okay, excellent.  Yes. Excellent. All right. So, everybody, I would like to encourage you; if you have questions, please go ahead and put them in the chat as we go through. I know Mekonnen has very enthusiastically already sent some questions in, which we will try to address. Thank you, Mekonnen. So we just wanted to go through Viv; you can already go to what we’ll cover today. And I’m looking at my slides here as well. So apologies for any confusion. But as we said in the invite, what we hope to cover today, if you can go to the first slide, thank you, what is The People’s Vaccine Alliance? So again, to introduce myself, my name is Maaza Seyoum, and I’m with the African Alliance, which is currently coordinating the work of The People’s Vaccine Alliance in Africa. So given that our comrades in Asia for The People’s Vaccine Alliance have already held their first team meeting for comrades around the continent, we were encouraged to do the same in Africa because there’s been so much going on with vaccine equity work. And we wanted to make sure that all of you who were able to join us know what the People’s Vaccine Alliance is. What we are doing, then we will have a brief, I know we could have a whole 90-minute discussion about this, but we’ll have a brief conversation on the role of the African Union and Africa CDC on COVID-19 vaccine access across the continent. And my colleague, Tian Johnson, who sits on the community engagement arm of the Vaccine Delivery Alliance, is here on hand for that. And then we wanted to give some highlights from the last few months from across the continent. And that’s when I will ask our comrades from Oxfam and Action Aid who are co-hosting this meeting today to start us off and talk about the activities they have been involved in related to vaccine equity in the last couple of months. And then also Joab from Action Aid, I’m sorry, Joab, from Oxfam and Buba from Action Aid. Also, each had one organisation that they wanted to call on that they know have done some interesting work on vaccine equity in the last couple of months that they would call on.  Joab and Buba, I hope you can see the list of participants who are in attendance. So just to make sure that the person you wanted to call on is here, and then we’ll also open it up if we have time for all of you to let us know what you have been working on in vaccine equity for the last few months. And then, we wanted to talk about advocacy opportunities for the rest of quarter two for May and June. As we know, this is sort of a critical time for pushing for vaccine equity. And we know there are some activities that I will go through, or at least some advocacy opportunities available that the People’s Vaccine Alliance has identified for May. But one of the priorities of the People’s Vaccine Alliance is to make sure that the areas of focus that are of interest to the global south are included. So we want to find out what you all know that we are not aware of that we can make sure we include it in our discussions going forward. And then, as we said in the email, probably, most importantly, we want to talk about the next steps. What is the best way to coordinate our work going forward? We will let you know how to do that for those who want to join the People’s Vaccine Alliance as organisations. But even if you would rather be an observer and participate in vaccine equity work with us, we would like to know the best ways to collaborate with all of you going forward. So that those are the agenda items for the day. As I said, please feel free to put questions or comments in the chat, and we will try to address them. Okay, the next slide, please. 

Okay, so what is the People’s Vaccine Alliance?  It is not an organisation. It is a coalition of organisations and activists united under the common aim of campaigning for what we call a people’s vaccine. And this would be on shared knowledge or advocating. And the point is to have a freely available vaccine for everyone everywhere, a global common good. At the moment, 44 organisations all over the world have signed up as official members of the Alliance. And it’s also backed by past and present world leaders, health experts, faith leaders and economists. Viv, go ahead. Next slide, please. Thank you. 

So what we are calling for is a free of charge vaccine for everyone everywhere, distributed according to needs, with no exceptions. And here, the goal is openly sharing the vaccine science technology and know-how, which is through the WHO C-TAP. And again, that’s something that if people have questions about, we can try and address in the discussion. C TAP is a COVID-19 technology access pool launched by WHO in partnership with the government of Costa Rica and 40 other member states. And that’s the idea of being able to scale up manufacturing and make sure that the knowledge is shared to allow the manufacturing of vaccines to happen globally. So that’s one of the things that the People’s Vaccine Alliance is calling for, a global manufacturing and distribution plan and cost-price vaccine investment in production capacity and the capacity building for health workers. Okay, go ahead, Viv. All right. So what are the current state of play? And I think all of you are very aware of this, given that most of the continent is still struggling to get good access to vaccines. So nine out of 10 people in most low and middle-income countries are set to miss out this year on vaccines. COVAX will reach 20% coverage at best, and I think many of us are familiar with COVAX. But if there are questions about what COVAX is, we can get into that during the question and answer. And basically, countries are being left behind to bid in the open market and pay high prices for small volumes of vaccines. At the moment, our cousins, friends, colleagues in rich countries generally have more vaccines than they need. They bought up the vast majority of the supply. As we’ve heard, there are some supply delays, which have meant further delays for low and middle-income countries. The pharmaceutical monopolies are being fiercely defended. And also, there’s some distracting discourse, talking about COVAX and how that’s working and maybe focusing on donations. And that’s something that I know that African Union and Africa CDC have also been discussing. So hopefully, we can get into that. Next slide. Please. 

Okay, and now part of the work of the People’s Vaccine Alliance has been the focus on the TRIPS Waiver. And I hope you all can see this map here, I know, it’s hard to see because there are so many spots. But the TRIPS is the Trade-Related aspects of Intellectual Property Rights. It’s the WTO agreement. And it’s the most comprehensive multilateral agreement on intellectual property. This is out of the World Trade Organization. And at the moment, as you all know, South Africa and India have submitted a proposal at the WTO, the World Trade Organization, to waive certain IP rights under the TRIPS agreement temporarily. And this is what many of the rich countries have been blocking. So when you see here the yellow stars are sponsors and co-sponsors of the trips waiver, you have countries full supporters of the TRIPS Waiver. And the countries that we, as the People’s Vaccine Alliance, are focused on are the opponents so that those are countries that you see with you know, the orange X on top of them, you know, so we’re talking about the US, which is still blocking the TRIPS Waiver. But Joe Biden has been apparently recently making a few noises that he might be willing to advocate for waiving the TRIPS Waiver. The UK is still blocking the TRIPS Waiver, Australia, Norway, Japan. And Brazil, notably in the global south, is also blocking the TRIPS Waiver. Thank you, Viv. Next slide. 

Okay, so who is The People’s Vaccine Alliance trying to influence? Rich country governments because they’re the ones who could push pharma companies to share the science and technology, pharma companies themselves were trying to pressure and then you know, some low and middle-income countries are not pushing as energetically for the TRIPS Waiver. And also here, this is something that we want to hear from you all. What could we do as the People’s Vaccine Alliance? Or what could we do for African advocates to push our governments in other ways that would allow for a more accessible and equitable vaccine and try to change the narrative amongst the public and the media? I have found, and I don’t know if you all agree, that in the last few weeks, at least, there seems to be in the media quite a bit of discussion about intellectual property rights and the TRIPS Waiver. There seem to be both media organisations and individuals posting more regularly about the need for vaccines to be freely available. So hopefully, the People’s Vaccine Alliance is one of the groups that has played a part in that influence. Okay, the next slide, please. Okay, and what do we need? What’s the plan to influence mass public pressure, media attention, targeted advocacy, and integration of priorities? And this is really where our group comes in. And something that I have learned in the time that I have been part of the People’s Vaccine Alliance, and I hope Joab and Buba, Joab from Oxfam Buba from Action Aid, both very active members of the People’s Vaccine Alliance. Oxfam and UNAIDS, I forgot to mention, are the founding members of the People’s Vaccine Alliance. So if anybody from UNAIDS is here, or and I know Oxfam is with Joab and others.  You can just talk a little bit about the need for flexibility because things do change on a very regular basis. So it’s about trying to be flexible and responsive. Okay, next slide, please, Viv. And here I know that I’ve gone over a little bit, but just talking about recent achievements. On March 11, People’s Vaccine Global Day Of Action, which included an online rally, which had statements from Graça Machel, the Archbishop of Cape Town, Bernie Sanders made a statement we had linked there. But it’s a few minutes long, and I don’t think we have time just to share that. But you know, given that Senator Bernie Sanders of the US state of Vermont does have quite a wide following. So it was gratifying to see him advocating loudly for the TRIPS Waiver. There was a global survey of epidemiologists, including African scientists, and that if you’re able to hit that link, that would be great. Just to see, there was a lot of global media around the epidemiologist surveys. So those were, and Viv if you’re if your internet is a bit spotty, we can kick it back to me as well. And I can do that if we have time here. All right, let me do that. Viv has kicked it back to me. Yeah. Okay. But your screen is not sharing the moment. There was a survey done amongst epidemiologists. The result was that the longer vaccines are not shared widely, there is a fear of the virus, as we have seen in many countries mutating, and that the vaccines will not be as effective going forward. So this is just to show you just a quick link in terms of and the view. I just wanted to show the headline. And then we can go back to the presentation. That’s just to show you some of the advocacy of the People’s Vaccine Alliance and trying to take the results from the survey and then push those into global media, there was an open letter to President Biden, and that’s really to try and pressure him to allow for the TRIPS Waiver, you know because as we know, the US does have quite a bit of influence. A couple of the pharmaceutical companies are headquartered in the US that has COVID-19 vaccines. So that was a letter, an open letter signed by over 170 Global Leaders printed in the Financial Times and picked up by global media as well if we can leave that just because we don’t have that much time left. There have been many opinion pieces in newspapers around the world. And I would be happy, you know, later in our discussion today, and we’ll be talking about the best way to communicate going forward. And we can make sure for those of you who are not members of the People’s Vaccine Alliance and would rather not join; we can find another way to share all of these products with you to see. For those of you who do join the People’s Vaccine Alliance, the documents are available in the internal documents dump that the People’s Vaccine Alliance has set up. There is a global petition signed by over a million people for the waving of IP rights. And just yesterday, there was a call to action by faith leaders from around the world. So that was both Christian and Muslim faith leaders and Jewish faith leaders. And the Dalai Lama, coinciding with this Easter-Ramadan period, encouraging the world, encouraging global leaders to allow for this TRIPS Waiver. So a vaccine could be available for all. 

So now upcoming opportunities, at least as the People’s Vaccine Alliance has seen them. There’s a G7 meeting. There’s a full World Trade Organization, General Counsel meeting. And we can go through these in more detail at the end of our discussion if we have time. For us on the continent, May 25 is Africa Day. We wanted to talk about whether there were opportunities there that we could use. But that is some of what the People’s Vaccine Alliance has been trying to do is look forward to the next three months, see what advocacy opportunities are available, and try and develop actions and opportunities around those. So, for example, March 11, which I mentioned to you, was the first anniversary since COVID-19 had been described as a pandemic. That was a day where global action protests in different countries and the online rally that I mentioned where Graça Machel and Bernie Sanders, and others released statements. Next slide, Viv. 

Okay, so here, in terms of how the People’s Vaccine Alliance coordinates, there is a great pool of documents. Oxfam, one of Joab’s colleagues, has developed an amazing database in Nairobi, out of the Nairobi office, with vaccine coverage and epidemiological data. There are excellent graphics available that can be used for social media or posters or elsewhere, their organisational contact of other members for collaboration in our various regions as necessary. I see that we have a colleague from Spain on the call here today. So if there are opportunities for collaboration with people in the global north, there is a bi-weekly Alliance wide meeting. But there are also subgroups for strategising and planning. The subgroups are policy and advocacy influential, so that’s really how to reach out to and get the voices of influential people in our different regions to chime in. So you know, the Archbishop in Cape Town was one Graça Machel is another. There’s some talk about getting Cyril Ramaphosa to make a more enthusiastic statement leading up to the G7 or the G20. So that’s what that group does. There’s a Campaigns and Media Group, a Statistics Group, that’s the one that Joab’s colleague leads in Nairobi, and Pharmaceuticals Advisory Group, that thinks about how to target pharmaceutical companies directly. There’s an active Twitter campaign with the #PeoplesVaccine hashtag. They’ve been very good at the People’s Vaccine Alliance about boosting our Twitter feeds when we have an event or an activity. So a lot of coordination in house. And a lot of opportunities to share documents as well. Next slide. Okay, and that’s it for now. We will talk as we go forward. I want to give people the opportunity to ask a few questions, maybe now. And then, in the end, we can talk about how to coordinate going forward. Thank you, Viv, for sharing my slides. And I’m just looking at the questions here. Yes, thank you, Tian, for letting people know the slides will be shared, and the recording will be shared. And we are committing to get you a report of today’s meeting and next steps and action items early next week so that we can gather momentum. And let’s see here. There is a question, I believe, Busi. We see you had a question here about COVAX. Can you tell us what your question about COVAX is? Is your microphone working?

Busisiwe Nkosi  21:04

Yes.

Maaza Seyoum  21:06

And tell us what organisation you’re from, please. 

Busisiwe Nkosi  21:09

Oh, I’m a lead of the Africa Health Research Institute. So it’s a research organisation based in Northern KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. 

Maaza Seyoum  

Excellent. Welcome. 

Busisiwe Nkosi  

Yeah, so I’ll be honest, I’m hearing this COVAX term for the first time here, and maybe just some general overview would help and then I can search for more. 

Maaza Seyoum  21:34

Thank you. Okay, so COVAX, and please others who are very well-versed, please feel free to chime in.  GAVI, which is the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisations. CEPI, which is the Coalition for epidemic preparedness and innovations to Norwegian Association. Interestingly, Norway is one of the countries blocking the TRIPS Waiver and the World Health Organization. So Busi, COVAX is led by GAVI, CEPI and the World Health Organization. It is currently the global mechanism that is pooling COVID-19 vaccines to, in theory, allow for access for poor countries. So 170 countries have agreed to work together and to try and buy vaccines together to be able to donate to poor countries. I think what people are concerned about with COVAX and others, please chime in because it has not been as transparent about the deals that it is making as it should be with pharmaceutical companies. So rich countries are buying up vaccines in theory, the COVAX mechanism will lead to donations to poor countries, but the civil society and developing countries have not been involved in the decision-making process, and it has not been very transparent. So, you know, our goal in COVAX would be for deals with pharmaceutical companies to be published, developing country governments, and civil society members to be involved in decision making. And I want to open it up. Busi, I hope that answers your question about what COVAX is, at least. But I would like to open it up, and I know that Oxfam has some very strong views on COVAX. So, Joab, I don’t know if there’s anything that you would like to add to that or if you think that I summarised it adequately.

Joab Okanda  23:35

I think you did, just to say that you know that most of the vaccines received so far are through the COVAX facility in most developing countries. And the thing is that pharmaceutical companies and developed nations are trying to hide behind the COVAX facility to give small donations instead of removing the TRIPS so that developing countries can manufacture at scale. The second thing about COVAX, you know, last year, there was a commitment that was developing country through COVAX will also start vaccinating at the same time as developed nations. That never happened to date. COVAX has only, I think, met one in five doses of what it had committed to deliver by May 2021. So those are the challenges so rich countries, hiding behind the COVAX facility and pharmaceutical companies hiding behind the COVAX facility to give the little to the nations, which we do appreciate, but much more needs to happen.

Maaza Seyoum  24:59

Thank you, Joab, for that. And Busi, I see that Tian has been sharing links in the chat as we’re talking. And I know that Tian also has some additional information that he can add about COVAX. So I think since we have already gone over time. Ideally, I was hoping that that intro on the People’s Vaccine Alliance would only be about 20 minutes. So Tian, I would like to now hand over to you to give a brief intro on what the African Alliance is and your work with the African Union and Africa, CDC, and how that relates to the broader picture of vaccine access around the continent. 

Tian Johnson  25:43

Absolutely, thanks so much, Maaza. And just again, on behalf of the Alliance, thank you so much to everyone for taking time out of your schedules to join us on this Friday. I’m sure throughout this pandemic, we’ve been zoomed out, but I just can’t resist the temptation to add about COVAX. Our historical position has been from the outset; you know, we’ve seen governments who continually deflect their responsibilities by referring to COVAX in the early days of the pandemic. The constant refrain was when they were asked where are the vaccines? We were told, oh, COVAX, COVAX.  And, of course, COVAX is spectacularly overwhelmed. It’s unable to meet its targets and grossly underfunded. There’s virtually no transparency. It is an unelected, unaccountable body. We cannot hold COVAX to account for anything that they do. They’ve tied governments in knots in terms of the regulations and conditions in terms of vaccines. In terms of how these vaccines are procured. In the early days, they requested, for example, in South Africa, a lot of our national regulations as far as procurement goes, to be sidestepped and totally done away with. So while COVAX is an absolutely critical and essential component of how we get vaccines to the community from the factory into arms, we really have to be aware that COVAX, in our view, at least does not represent equitable access. COVAX is not set up to result in equitable access. That responsibility has to remain at the core of our governments. We also can’t be relying on the Netherlands for charity to get leftover stocks of vaccines. While that would be great, especially at this moment, in a country like South Africa, where we have not even started our vaccine rollout. We have to constantly reinforce the message that we need to break the silos of confidentiality, these silos of non-disclosure agreements, the fact that our elected officials in office can turn around and tell civil society and communities they can’t comment because of a non-disclosure agreement. It’s absolutely outrageous. And I think a pure form of state capture if a pharmaceutical company is silencing publicly elected officials. So I’ll stop there. And just speak a bit about the African Alliance. And our role with the African CDC, which falls under the African Union, I will attempt to share my screen, and I’ll just go through these slides very quickly. And, of course, we can share them after the call. So can you see my slides?

Maaza Seyoum  28:33

Yes, Tian, we can.

Tian Johnson  28:35

And so this is just a brief overview of the work. So the African Alliance and our partners sit on a structure called AVDA, the African Vaccine Delivery Alliance. And our role, of course, is to ensure that vaccines get to communities as soon as possible. That is underway. And vaccines have been procured and distributed across the continent. Member states can go onto a dashboard and select what vaccines they would like in terms of vaccine candidates. And the structure has allocated these vaccines to countries based on the population. So I’ll explain a bit more about that. This is just really in terms of how we feel we will accelerate expanded access. So there are three competencies when we talk about fast-tracking regulatory decisions as a critical component of our work. And the first is to accelerate African involvement in clinical development. We’ve been saying this for, I think, over two decades now, from HIV vaccines now to COVID vaccines, to say we have to look at our African capacity to manufacture seriously. Since the onset of this pandemic, we’ve had manufacturers saying that we are ready to manufacture, But we need to break this agent, give us the recipe for this vaccine. So we can manufacture and get these vaccines to people who need them and need them urgently. But of course, as Maaza had pointed, we have countries in the EU countries like Norway, who have materially stood up to inequality. These are champions for inequality. And the mind boggles because countries like Norway have a long history of investing democracy of investing, citizen participation, of investing in strengthened health systems. And that just goes against what we see now. Where we are seeing these wealthy countries stand up and say, absolutely not. And, of course, we had Bill Gates echo that yesterday. So these are companies and groups who are standing in the way of us getting these vaccines. Of course, in South Africa, we are filling and finishing vaccines and sending them out of the country. A portion of those vaccines will remain in-country. And of course, a range of these vaccine candidates feed into the African Vaccine Delivery Alliance, which is the body that we lead community engagement and communications for. And the second pillar there is looking at how do we ensure access to sufficient vaccine supply? You know, this directly impacts the fact that just in the last few days, the DRC is on the verge of returning just under 2 million vaccines to the facility, which are on the verge of expiring. With a secured 2.9 million doses of a vaccine for Nigeria, Ethiopia is coming on board in two weeks; we will see their doses arrive through this African mechanism. So again, it’s about strengthening African responses and African mechanisms and lessening our collective reliance on partners in the global south or the global north. And, of course, the third component is looking apart from regulation; how do we get these vaccines to communities is the endless discussions around refrigeration, cold chain and logistics. And that’s all well and good. But we saw it with antiretrovirals. We saw it with PrEP, we saw it with the inner condom, we saw it with early-stage work around the vaginal microbicide that all of these investments, these millions and billions of dollars of the science of research, of work of communities, putting themselves on the line to participate in vaccine trials, all of that will mean absolutely nothing if we cannot get vaccines into people’s arms. And right now, we have clinical trial participants who made in part these vaccines possible, who are looking and seeing their colleagues in the global north, predominantly white colleagues taking vaccine selfies. So we’re seeing partners and people in the global north getting vaccinated. But yet the very people who took part in the clinical research to make this happen are being pulled to 2023. There’s an absolute outrage. And it’s unacceptable. If there’s one of the many things that civil society should be amplifying our voices, it is right now that we have wealthy countries stopping access to the vaccine, so I’ll skip some of the regulatory stuff and just go straight into the real focus. So that’s logistics. I won’t cover that. I’m not going to cover patient flow. But we’ve covered everything from building and developing national vaccine strategies right up to the vaccination sites in hotels and conference centres and sports stadiums etc., etc. And this is the slide I wanted to touch on a pillar of our work, which resulted from advocacy internally within these structures to set up a community engagement pillar. So we have a logistics pillar, a manufacturing pillar, a financing pillar, etc., etc., and various entities lead those pillars. And so, of course, the African Alliance lead that pillar, which is really looking at community engagement, and what that means in the context of risk communication. So we had the AstraZeneca stoppage a few weeks ago that impacted vaccine confidence and vaccine hesitancy. Right now, we’re dealing with Johnson and Johnson that has just come on board, or back on board after a period of intense media around blood clots around these six people who developed these blood clots, one of whom died, one was in a hospital. And so some of the work we’re doing right now, which we will release next week, is a set of communication materials targeted at communities, really walk with communities along this journey of understanding the basic issue, what is the blood clot? How do blood clots fit into this broader picture of the vaccine discussion that we’re having now? Will I get a blood clot if I get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine? What about if I’ve already had the Johnson and Johnson vaccine? For me, what does that mean? It’s really important. We try to the best of our ability within the limited resources we have as a very small NGO to ensure that communities are brought along in terms of basic access to information. 

So I’ll stop sharing there and just say that we welcome support and expressions of introduction to join this community engagement pillar. We’ve partnered with several regional civil society networks. We have partners across the continent, but we constantly want to reach out and make the circle bigger and use our positionality within these structures to be accountable to civil society. So ideally, we’d like to circle back to you before the key meeting and say this is the agenda of what we have coming. What are the issues in your work context that you would like us to raise?  What’s been on your mind in terms of manufacturing, in terms of the distribution, do you have a communications need, etc.? But in the next month, we’ll be finalising what we’ve called a solidarity package. This is a package really of technical support. It’s a package that will work with national civil society groups across Africa to ensure that there’s a skill set there that can identify trends, not only on social media but also on community radio.  Because, of course, we acknowledge not everyone has access to unlimited high-speed data. That’s the reality on the continent. And so we have to ensure that we bring these communities, all of our communities, along with these discussions, so we encourage you to send an email to me tian@africanalliance.org.za, or to maaza@africanalliance.org.za or info@africanalliance.org.za  We will get it. We will add you to that list to ensure that you are kept up to date with what Africa is doing to meet the current needs. So having said that, thank you, Maaza. And happy to take any questions or comments.

Maaza Seyoum  37:11

Great, Tian, thank you so much. So I know that my brother Mekonnen. And I can see he’s already up. He had some questions for you already. Mekonnen. And I can see that you’ve already unmuted yourself. So we can start with you. Maybe if you have a couple of questions for Tian, we might not answer all because we want to leave some time for the discussion. But please go ahead and ask one of your questions.

Mekonnen Debel 37:33

Thank you, Maaza. I have three questions to ask. First, how can we become a member? Do we have other alternative mechanisms other than COVAX?  Do we have different platforms that can separate mechanisms for distributing the COVID vaccine other than COVAX in Africa and Ethiopia? My third question – inaudible

Maaza Seyoum  38:49

Okay, so Mekonnen, your microphone was a bit scratchy. But the first question I think you asked was how do organisations on this call join the People’s Vaccine Alliance if they’re not already? That one is fortunately very straightforward; you will just send me an email if you are interested in being a member of the People’s Vaccine Alliance. And I will connect you to the appropriate person. They would send you a short form that you need to fill explaining what your organisation does. And they would also let you know what the objectives of or reiterate because you’ve heard them today, the purposes of the People’s Vaccine Alliance. They would ask you if you can stand by those; if you’re a group that is really dedicated only to donations and does not want to push for intellectual property shifts, that would be complicated. And maybe you should not be a full member of the People’s Vaccine Alliance. So the first one is quite easy. Please send me an email, and I’ll put it in the chat.

The second one, I think you asked what the other mechanisms that Ethiopia, other African countries have access to aside from COVAX to access COVID-19 vaccines? There Tian, I’ll let you speak to that. I know that some countries have been accessing Chinese vaccines, and there’s some talk of the Russian vaccine on its way. But Tian, I’ll let you speak to that. And then the third question, I think you were asking, what is the People’s Vaccine Alliance interest or involvement in research and development on the continent more broadly? Is that right? 

Mekonnen Debel 

Yeah, exactly. Thank you for the great presentation. I would like to add more about health-related information, capturing system.

Maaza Seyoum   

Okay. I can tell you that the People’s Vaccine Alliance has not been involved in health systems management issues, but Tian, maybe you can speak to whether AVDA addresses those as part of the African Union Africa, CDC work. So Tian, I’ll hand it over to you.

Tian Johnson  40:58

Thanks so much, Maaza. Thank you, Mekonnen, for the question. I’m going to put a link in the chat that is our African CDC dashboard. On that dashboard, you will be able to see that the current cases, the numbers of deaths and recoveries, you’ll be able to see that per country, and you’ll be able to sort the data accordingly. I will also put a second link on the chat to show you some of the disaggregated data. So on the African CDC link that I put on the chat, you will see the supply, how many vaccines have been administered, what type of vaccine has been acquired? What is COVAX bringing to the party? What is the bilateral supply chain looking like, and what is the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT)  bringing? And of course, AVATT  is that structure within the African Union and African CDC that has been securing the doses of the vaccine; of course, our aim is just under 700 million doses within this year. We’re fairly well on track getting those. But of course, with all of these issues, we are subject to manufacturing, you know, we’ve seen even some of the wealthiest countries in the world do not have access. And of course, because we’re not manufacturing it fast enough because pharma, in collaboration with wealthy countries, are standing in the way of us doing that. So I’ll share those two links. And again, happy to have separate conversations if you’d like me to take you through some of the materials and the numbers. Thanks, Maaza.

Maaza Seyoum  42:45

Okay, thank you. Friends, because we are moving along in time, I would say, please drop any questions in the chat. And even if we don’t address them today, we will compile them and do our best to answer them in writing. I would now like to hand it over. As we said, the next point to the discussion was going to be just a quick overview of the interesting activities related to vaccine equity that have been taking place in the last few months. You know, there are many. I saw a note that Busi put in the chat that it’s overwhelming to keep up that sometimes she misses things. And I feel like we all have that sentiment. And I know that Joab and Buba, particularly with Oxfam and Action Aid, have been involved with many interesting activities. So, Joab, I’ll start with you. And then Buba, I’m glad to see you’re back. You next and if you could let us know, either from your part as Oxfam, Joab or any of your collaborators, any interesting activities that have taken place in the last couple of months.

Joab Okanda  43:49

Thanks, Maaza; a lot has happened in the continent and across the world. I think for me, I want to pass over this opportunity to anyone on the call to share what they’ve been doing. If someone wants to share what an organisation or an individual has been doing regarding the People’s Vaccine or access to vaccines, feel free to share if you don’t feel free, I see some people in the call and can call out to them too. I can think I see Njoki on the call and Chenai or anyone else who wants to share.

Maaza Seyoum  44:35

And as people are warming up Joab and are thinking about what they want to say, Buba, I know that Action Aid also has been very busy. So if you have anything top of mind that you would like to share with a specific collaborator or us, you would like to put on the spot to share their activities with us. Buba, I think you’re on mute.

Buba Khan  45:11

Hello, can you hear me? 

Maaza Seyoum  

Yes, we can hear you now. 

Buba Khan  

Yeah, sorry, my connection is very bad. But I’ll try as much as possible from Action Aid side. Sorry, my video is not on because of my internet connection. Yeah, we are looking at the vaccine campaign from a broader sense of issues because we’ve seen that it’s part of a bigger problem we are facing.

* Inaudible

Maaza Seyoum  46:04

Buba,  I’m sorry, your connection is 

Buba Khan  46:06

*Inaudible

as a result, our approach to the People’s Vaccine is from that perspective, where we look at it from where, for instance, from equality science, you know, because we’ve seen that the inequality gap between the rich and poor is increasing. And that’s why the richer countries are able to provide vaccines for their people. While we are not from another sense, we are looking at it from the point of view where our people are not able to also access the cost of the vaccine, like, for instance, as a result of a lot of macroeconomic factors, you know, relate, *inaudible

So that’s why, you know, we reconvene to have solutions to some of these problems like recently, we had a discourse with the Africa finance ministers. We are looking at how Africa’s debt could be cancelled to provide vaccines, accessible vaccines, and help people. So that is another angle around this type of issue because x justice is a key element of African financing problems because we’ve seen that many of Africa’s resources are being delayed and due to either x or x finance flows. So if all those mechanisms were correctly addressed, Africa could have enough resources to finance our development, including providing vaccines. Lastly, and not the least is on the work that we also started 

*inaudible

Maaza Seyoum  48:14

I’m sorry, Buba. We’ve just we’ve just lost you. But I think we caught

Buba Khan  48:21

Can you hear me? 

Maaza Seyoum  48:25

Unfortunately, it’s not very good. Yeah, it’s very spotty. Buba, I’m sorry. But we got until talking about pressuring. We talked about debt inequality and pressuring the finance ministers. So Buba, I think because your line is spotty. We should leave it at that. But you know, what I will say is maybe Buba we will ask you to include in the report, maybe just a few lines. You can put Action Aid’s work there. 

Okay. Joab, I will kick it back to you. Joab one of your comrades. Oh, and I see. Suhayl Omar from People’s Vaccine Kenya is here. So Suhayl. I know you’ve just joined. So maybe I can put you on the spot because I know you had an event just today. So perhaps we can put you on the spot. And we’re just at the point where we’re talking about what groups around the continent have been doing in terms of vaccine equity in the last couple of months before we look forward to opportunities for the rest of the quarter. Suhayl, can I put you on the spot?

Suhayl Omar  49:32

Hi, Maaza. Yes, you can. Hi, everyone. My name is Suhayl Omar, and I am currently leading the People’s Vaccine Kenya campaign efforts in Kenya. So, in summary, a lot of the work we’re doing focuses on advocacy, litigation, access to information and awareness about the vaccine. So I think one of the key issues we are facing, especially in Kenya, and I know many of you are practising, especially within the global south, understand this. We have two challenges as we fight and advocate for free and fair distribution of the vaccine from big pharma and the TRIPS Waiver. We have to come back home and advocate the same with our government. Because sometimes we’re speaking about these things, for example, the TRIPS Waiver, but our governments aren’t really interested in such policy mechanisms or engaging with them. So far, we have worked with the government, which is always very slippery, because we have sent out a few access to information letters, most of them no response till now, the legal period of 14 days has passed for months now later. And I think now the solution insight is litigation. So I think a key challenge we’ve been facing is the conversation and discussion of such things between the community, governments, community, and international actors per se. So I think Maaza, if I’ve missed anything or want to get anything in particular, maybe you can ask them, then I can just answer directly to that. 

Maaza Seyoum  51:19

No, I think that’s perfect, Suhayl. Thank you. We just wanted to give a flavour of what’s been going on on the continent, and Joab, I know you had called on one other person to be given an opportunity. You had called on one other person Joab. I don’t know if that person feels comfortable speaking about what they’ve been doing. Joab, are you still with us?

Joab Okanda  51:47

Yes. Thanks. Maybe you know, you, you’ve highlighted what has been happening. So perhaps just to share a bit of what we’ve been doing, as civil society and Oxfam in collaboration with others. So on March 11, for instance, a couple of African organisations and international organisations came together and ended up having a civil society statement that was reflected in various media outlets. But also we saw that the language of that statement being used by some governments, for example, Kenyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in response to the red listing of Kenya by the UK government response you could tell that most of the words came from the statement that civil society did address to governments, international financial institutions, pharmaceutical companies and developed countries, the African Union, and also the developed countries that are blocking the TRIPS Waiver. Other than that, we’ve also been mobilising African leaders actually to support the TRIPS Waiver. The letter that went to President Biden was signed by some former presidents from the continent and a Nobel laureate from the continent. We started this last year in July when we got a couple of African leaders to call for a people’s vaccine as early as July last year when preparing for the World Health Assembly. So we got the chair of the Africa CDC, the chair of the African Union, the chair of the African Union commission itself, and a couple of other leaders from the continent to call for people’s vaccine. As early as July last year, we could see the president of Ghana, the president of Senegal all signed on to the letter calling for our people’s vaccine during last year and the Health Assembly. So, in brief, that is it. But from this meeting, I know many of us are doing things or doing stuff separately in relation to the people’s vaccine; it could be at the national level, it could be at the regional level or the continental level. One of the outcomes of this meeting would be to see how we can coordinate better the different efforts that each of us is engaging and link national conversations to regional to the continental and global conversation. Yeah, how do we share information more? How do we get to join each other in the way of individual actions or collective actions? Maybe we can discuss that in the next session—Maaza, back to you.

Maaza Seyoum  54:54

Great. Thank you so much, Joab. And as I mentioned, Oxfam and UNAIDS were the founding members of the People’s Vaccine Alliance. And we’re always very, very heartened by Oxfam’s continued enthusiasm and support; much of the documentation that if you join the People’s Vaccine Alliance that you will have access to, has been developed by Oxfam. Before we go on, and I want to go to the section that Joab has just highlighted, the main point of this call was to brainstorm how we could coordinate better. I have mentioned how people can join the People’s Vaccine Alliance. Just to remind us, have you shared how people can join AVDA? Is that clear? Have you put your info in the chat? I mean, we will do this in the report, as well. But I know that there’s a lot of interest in the African Vaccine Delivery Alliance, Tian?. 

Tian Johnson  55:52

Yeah, absolutely. And thanks again, Maaza. So we had just signed our terms of reference yesterday. Since the outset of the pandemic, we’ve been working on this, starting with some engagements with the doctors and communities within Wuhan. But now that we finalised this African Union African CDC structure, I think I shared previously, but just a reminder, you can email me, my email addresses are in the chat or info@africanalliance.org.za.

Just to be clear in terms of [AVDA] membership, because there have been some questions. So becoming a member of the community engagement pillar will not translate into membership of the Delivery Alliance. That structure has already been set up. And the leadership has been appointed by the director of the Africa CDC, Dr John Nkengasong. But we would like to encourage you to join us on that specific pillar. Membership is open to any African structure that has a track record of community engagement and is African led. International organisations and INGOs, of course, are always free to reach out and express solidarity and interest. We will certainly lean on them and call on NGOs and international organisations to be on standby to support when needed because the African Union and the African CDC need to cement African ownership of this response whilst also recognising the importance of global solidarity. So this particular call is open for African-led African-based organisations who regard one of their roles as meaningfully engaging communities on these issues. So please do feel free to email me at info@africanalliance.org.za  or tian@africanalliance.org.za. Thanks, Maaza.

Maaza Seyoum  57:40

Great. Thank you so much. So now we’re keeping time which makes me happy we have enough time to do the important next steps. Please, comrades, keep your questions coming in the chat, and whatever we’re not able to address today, we will put in the notes. Can everyone see my slides now? Can people see my slide? Okay. Sorry about that. I’m trying to share my slide. 

Tian Johnson  58:20

While you’re doing that, can I just respond to a comment that Omar had in the chat?

Maaza Seyoum  58:24

 Yes, go ahead. 

Tian Johnson  58:26

Just a quick one to say we will be convening in the next week for a dedicated session on African manufacturing capacity because that is an issue that has come up time and time again. Certainly, every issue that western media have propagated, you know, really implying that Africa and the global south does not have the capacity to manufacture. And of course, the tragic irony is that we see one of the countries hardest hit is India, one of the world’s largest manufacturers. So it’s also linked to how we understand the colonisation of the space and constantly challenge narratives that Africa cannot own its own response.

Maaza Seyoum  59:09

Thanks, Tian. Can people see my slide now?

Tian Johnson  59:14

Yes. 

Maaza Seyoum  59:15

Okay. And one thing I wanted to address before we do the next steps, I did see a comment as well. And I’m not sure who it was from. Forgive me, because now, of course, I’m looking at my PowerPoint here, but there was a question about addressing hesitancy. And I know that that’s a discussion that has been gone over a few times in the People’s Vaccine Alliance. Is it the role of the People’s Vaccine Alliance to try and address vaccine hesitancy issues around the continent? The steering committee has decided that there are so many groups in Africa and elsewhere that are doing a lot of outstanding work on this that the Alliance didn’t think it was appropriate for them to try and take on that role. But they will try to compile information and include that in the database of information that is available and try to link organisations in the People’s Vaccine Alliance to colleagues or comrades on the continent who are doing good work on addressing vaccine hesitancy. So to the person who asked that question, I hope that answers the question. People’s Vaccine Alliance at the moment is not trying to focus on vaccine hesitancy, but resources are available. And we will try and compile those in a way that is easily accessible. 

Okay, so now, in terms of the next steps, I hope we can spend a good chunk of time on this. Joab, Buba, and I spoke about the possibility of having monthly meetings for African civil society working on vaccine equity issues. And that is whether you’re a member of the People’s Vaccine Alliance or not. The People’s Vaccine Alliance membership is completely up to you. If you would like to do that, as I said, please email me, and I’ll facilitate that. And those are bi-weekly meetings. Again, nothing is required. Everybody knows that bi-weekly is quite a bit, but bi-weekly meetings are for the entire People’s Vaccine Alliance group. And for those people who have the bandwidth and would like to join the media group, the policy group, the influentials group, those meetings are also available. And the People’s Vaccine Alliance is very enthusiastic and keen to have voices from the global south included in all of those committees and the People’s Vaccine Alliance broadly. So if you are interested, I would encourage you to join. If you’re interested and you’re not sure, and you’d like to talk to me about it, please feel free to reach out, and we can have a conversation. I can tell you how much time it would take and how much your sort of, you know, input would drag from your other work. So, generally, do people feel that monthly meetings for African civil society on issues of vaccine equity would be helpful? And here, I guess people can chime in or write comments in the chat. And please just unmute yourself if you’re speaking, say who you are and what organisation you’re from. And let us know what you think about, you know, the idea of monthly meetings, the other issues and just to go over them briefly. We’ve had a lot of back and forth about the best way to communicate and the best way to share documents, you know, so Joab, Buba and I and Suhayl at the moment with Tian just have a WhatsApp group for our communication. We’re very willing to grow that and make it a big WhatsApp group. Our comrades in Asia have set up just a Google Doc that they go in and regularly update every time you know they have something to say or something happens. So those points two and three are linked one is just the regular communication. This webinar is happening tomorrow. There’s an action happening in Banjul. This is going on in Nairobi. Joab is in Addis, and he’s hosting a meeting. Who would like to attend? That common kind of communications, but it’s also things like sharing documents as people have presentations, interesting resources, etc. Where can we share those? So maybe if we could address that. If you have strong feelings about those three, please chime in, i.e. the regularity of the meetings, the best way to communicate that is useful for you that you could engage in, and the best way to share and store documents. Would anybody like to chime in? And I actually can’t see since I have my screen here. Let me just stop this so I can see. Does anybody have their hand up? Please feel free to raise your hand or just unmute yourself and chime in. Oh, I see here. Suhayl, Suhayl is saying, no, that’s not Suhayl. Aqeel Madhi is saying Google Drive and Google Docs would be the best way to go. Anybody else has strong feelings about that? Suhayl says that monthly meetings would be good. And maybe a Google Doc with constant updates. Okay. Noted. Everybody else seems quite relaxed about it. So if Google Docs is the best way to go, and how about something like a WhatsApp group or a signal group? Google Docs and drive? Okay, everybody is, is quite keen on Google Docs and drive. Okay, great. And I see that my brother Mekonnen here is saying a monthly meeting would be okay with people if we organised a monthly meeting here. I have WhatsApp as a potential backup for communications. So maybe what we’ll do is wonder if we should, and I know Tian is a big proponent of polls. And maybe we should have just had a poll here today that we could have all had filled in. But you know we can do maybe this is what we can start with. So we will try and go for monthly meetings. And that’s something that I would like to talk about today. I know Friday is very difficult for people. So thank you for allowing us to do this on a Friday afternoon. From now on, Joab and Buba, we hadn’t spoken about this. But I was thinking of suggesting maybe the last Thursday of every month, Thursday afternoons. If we did the last Thursday of every month, and that way, kind of look back as to what happened the month before and look forward to opportunities and issues for the next month. Do people feel okay about that? Last Thursday of every month, thank you from Levi, I hear an agreement. So unless we don’t hear any very loud objections out here, I have Suhayl saying a Tuesday afternoon, so we’ll note either Tuesday or Thursday. And we will do our best to document the meetings. So that way, even if you do miss one, you know, any of the action items will be noted. And if we do go for Google Docs, you know, they will be saved there. And so at the moment, I think what we will try and do, if people are okay, with sharing your phone numbers, we can have a WhatsApp group and a Google Drive and kind of try and have communications on both. And maybe what I’ll do is, we already have an Excel spreadsheet from the email that we sent out to all of you. And I will add a column there that has phone numbers and maybe put that on Google Drive for those of you who feel comfortable sharing your phone numbers. We promise that we won’t call you on Saturday evenings to ask you questions about the vaccine, about vaccine equity. In that case, we can have a WhatsApp group and a Google Drive here, sending a calendar invite in advance to diarise. Yes, thank you, Levi. We will do that going forward, for sure. So here Thursdays are fine, said Sally-Jean. Yes. And I think as long as you know, somebody from your organisation can attend, that would be great. Somebody’s asking here if they can send a WhatsApp number in the chat group; I will send an Excel spreadsheet around maybe for people to fill in that way, you can just put your information in there directly, so we don’t lose something in translation. Okay, that’s already great. So we’ve agreed on a monthly meeting. We will send an invite in advance, and I will go through the chat here, but I see some votes for Thursday’s others for Tuesday’s. If you have very stringent objections to either, please put them in the chat. We’ll either do Thursdays or Tuesdays. And we will send the set meetings in advance with calendar invites. So you can have them saved there. And we will do the WhatsApp group and Google Drive. 

Okay. So the next question was the idea of having a steering committee for Africa. I do like the idea of having representation, you know, from all over the continent. And Joab, I know that you had spoken about this. They have a steering committee in Asia for a smaller group that meets regularly to draft things and follow up. So that’s something that we can always decide on later. How does a group feel about that? Does anybody have strong feelings? You know, especially for those of us, those of you who represent regions? Do we have Rosemary Mburu on the line today? I don’t think we do. But I know that her group and others representing regions can speak for quite a few organisations. So any strong feelings about a steering committee that could be responsible for drafting documents, and doing more of the hands-on work, and then giving feedback to a larger group? Joab, I don’t know if you would like to speak to that, or if anybody else has any strong feelings, and we can always decide on that later, depending on how the large group goes for the first couple of months. I hear Buba says yes, great idea to set up a steering committee. And I think then we’ll just have to think about regional representation. If we go for a steering committee, and I think then maybe people would need to volunteer themselves, or we could reach out to the regional reps as well and try and encourage them to join the steering committee. I see in Ntando is here, and he is quiet. Hello, my friend Ntando. How are you? I’m putting you on the spot. What do you think? 

Ntando Yola  1:09:31

Hello Maaza. Apologies everyone. I joined in late. 

Maaza Seyoum  1:09:36

You’re very welcome. How do you feel about a steering committee, Ntando? What do you think?

Ntando Yola  1:09:42

Yeah, a steering committee is great and will steer us in the right direction.

Maaza Seyoum  1:09:51

Okay, great. So I’m getting a lot of votes. And here, perhaps Sally-Jean says perhaps people could also sign up to assist with specific tasks. Yes, there are a lot of people who are voting for a steering committee. So I think we’ll just have to get together in a small group. Those of us who organised today’s meeting, Joab and Buba, and talk to our colleagues in Asia and see how they went about selecting the steering committee and proposing that. So please, I would say Joab, Buba, Tian, can we commit to, along with the report that we send out next week, also proposing how the steering committee will be put together?

Tian Johnson  1:10:40

I think that’s fine. And I really like Sally’s idea of disaggregating subcommittees. So we don’t have things bottlenecked here. But certainly, I think that’s a great idea. And hello, Ntando, welcome as a representative of the Vaccine Advocacy Resource Group, so great to see you.

Maaza Seyoum  1:11:04

Okay, excellent. So and that was the last question on here was really about letting people know how to join the PVA, but we’ve already done that. So amazingly, we’ve already gone through the agenda items that we had planned. So just to recap, we will commit to sending the slides and reports by the middle of next week to this entire group, as well as an Excel spreadsheet for you to fill in your phone numbers. So we can make sure that we get a WhatsApp group and a Google Doc drive set up for everyone to communicate. We will also send proposals for how the steering committee will be constituted because there’s been a lot of enthusiasm for a steering committee. We will also set dates for meetings going forward. And we’ll start populating Google Drive with documents that, at least from the People’s Vaccine Alliance perspective, are key opportunities coming up for the next few months. And then, we will count on you all to also populate the drive with any documents that you find to be worth sharing. Joab. Yes, I see your hand is up.

Joab Okanda  1:12:19

Yeah, I think maybe one more thing. Even as we move towards forming the steering committee, if colleagues can start already sharing plans they have, maybe in the coming three months, we can already start looking at how to pull them together. And then if maybe, I don’t know when next we’re likely to meet. But there are a couple of upcoming opportunities that we can use to do something collectively. So maybe if we can spend like five minutes just for people to share any upcoming opportunities, you can all work on them together. We know that Africa Day is coming up. In Maaza’s presentation, she mentioned there’s an opportunity, and we can do something together. Also, Tian posted in the chat about the launch. So maybe spend five or 10 minutes thinking through what we can do together. The World Health Assembly is coming up. The WTO TRIPS Waiver meeting is also coming up. So maybe just to brainstorm a little bit, what we can already start doing and how we can communicate going forward as we plan for the opportunities before our monthly meeting.

Maaza Seyoum  1:13:46

Great. Thank you, Joab. Yes, and I’ve just re-shared my screen. Again, just to highlight some of the People’s Vaccine Alliance perspective, our opportunities are coming up. So it would already be great once we have the WhatsApp group and Google Drive. As Joab has said, we count on you all to share information with us. You know, one, as I said, the People’s Vaccine Alliance is very keen to make sure that voices strategies, interests from the global south and Africa in particular, are included in their strategy. So if there’s something that they have missed, for May and June, for example, that is not here in this list, please, you can already let us know now or send me an email. While we are setting up the WhatsApp group and is there anything that the People’s Vaccine Alliance, from your perspective, has missed as an opportunity that we should add here? So that’s the first question, and number two, are any of your organisation’s already doing something for any of these dates here? So, for example, for Africa, is anybody in this group already doing something for the UN World Health Assembly? Is there anything happening at your country level that we should know about? About I mean, one, can we support each other? Number two, is there any way to publicise or magnify the effect that you have on the work you are doing? So please feel free to raise your hand, or just actually since my screen is up here at the moment, I can not see hands. So let’s see. Anybody has any activities coming up in May or June that they would like to let us know about? Not at the moment, 

Suhayl Omar  1:15:35

I’m sorry. I’ve just remembered that. I think People’s Vaccine Kenya is organising. It’s going to be like a summary roundup session on May 28, if I’m not wrong, discussing all the events in summary, so there’ll be, I think, some of the facilitators that have a confirmed are Achal Prabhal and Tian will also be present. And there’s two more I’m not quite sure who they are. But once I have full confirmation, I’ll just run it by you and then we can pick it up from there.

Maaza Seyoum  1:16:11

Great, Suhayl, is this a webinar that’s open to everybody? Or invite-only? 

Suhayl Omar  1:16:21

It’s open to everyone. It’s summarising all the events and why these events are important. And the focus on maybe having an Africa focused call to action, for example, if it’s a phone zap or email zap to specific CEOs, or different ministers, so it’s discussing all the events that you’ve mentioned on your slide, and then looking for Africa-focused way forward, but with expert practitioners who know what’s happening in terms of policy, the law or medicine.

Maaza Seyoum  1:16:52

So it’s open for everyone? Okay, fantastic. And sorry, and I just want to say Suhayl. That’s the kind of activity that would be great to feed into the People’s Vaccine Alliance, so maybe anything that comes out of that, you know, any documents that are drafted, would be fed in to make sure that the People’s Vaccine Alliance can integrate into strategies going forward. So that’s super helpful. Yes, I heard somebody else speaking. And I don’t know who that is.

Buba Khan  1:17:22

Yeah, that’s me. That’s me, Maaza. 

Maaza Seyoum  1:17:25

Hi, Buba. 

Buba Khan  1:17:26

This Buba. Yeah, we are also in conversation with Africans Rising for the Africa Day celebrations. And we are trying to look at it from the point of view of Pan Africanism. Why is Africa not able to find the allocation of vaccines for their citizens? So that conversation will grow? So if we draft out the plan, I’ll share it with everyone on this platform. But we are in that conversation, and very soon, we’ll get it finalised.

Maaza Seyoum  1:17:59

Great, thank you. I noticed that Frontline AIDS is here, and I know that Frontline AIDS is quite active with the People’s Vaccine Alliance.  Frontline AIDS, do you have anything planned in May or June?

Sally-Jean Shackleton  1:18:15

Hi, I would have to check with Lois, who is the ultimate and the one who’s leading our efforts. I was just about to type also that there are potentially some unrelated specifically to vaccines. Sometimes even to help focus on equality. For instance, the Generation Equality Event by UN Women that’s coming up at the end of June might have some opportunities to at least integrate these kinds of messages and have a sort of consistent presence in spaces where there’s the potential to meet with people who could push the agenda. So maybe we could discuss further how to integrate messaging into potentially not specifically related to health, but issues around equality and addressing the concerns of marginalised communities in particular, which is our concern as well. 

Maaza Seyoum  1:19:20

Yes. And obviously, with the links between inequality and COVID-19, that is critical. So thank you. Thank you very much. Any other people who haven’t had the chance to speak yet who would like to chime in? 

French

I just want people to know that if we have French speakers feeling a little bit shy about chiming in, we will do our best in the future. I did attend one meeting that Joab invited me to where there was a simultaneous translation, which is quite a task but at the moment…

French

I can help out. If there are any other Ethiopians in the group, who are being shy, Mekonnen is here Mekonnen can help. And unfortunately, I don’t speak Portuguese, but if there are some Mozambicans or some Angolans, please tell your comrades who are not as familiar with English. So if they would like to join but are worried that it’s an English only group, Swahili speakers, we have Suhayl, we have Joab, we can make it happen. We have in Ntando for a wide variety of South African languages. We can make it work. So please make sure your colleagues in the regions know that we will do our best to make this as multilingual as possible. Any last comments? We are actually within the time. I’m so impressed and so grateful to everyone. Viv was telling me that people had logged in 10 minutes before the call. So it’s a very enthusiastic group of people. I remember back in the day when USAID said that we couldn’t even take our ARV’s on time. That’s why they wouldn’t allow us to get medication because we didn’t respect time. And here we are, 10 minutes early for our webinars. So thank you very much, everyone, for being so enthusiastic. Yes. Joab.

Joab Okanda  1:21:19

Yeah, maybe just to float this idea here. I know we are discussing the idea of having a joint webinar with civil society and Africa, CDC. I don’t know what colleagues here think about that. And maybe, if we agree, it’s a good idea. And maybe how to bring in the African Union just for a discussion between these agencies, and perhaps a government representative and civil society. If it’s a good idea to work towards, that might be great. 

Maaza Seyoum  1:21:56

And you know, what I would suggest maybe as a steering committee, something that we can plan to do is make a list of suggestions of upcoming meetings, because I think we should always have a bit of coordination at these meetings. But maybe we could do half and half of like, a topic discussion and coordination. So if it’s joint with CDC, one on a specific topic that people would like to know more about, we can do that. So maybe Joab, we can propose that as one of the tasks for the steering committee to plan meeting topics going forward. And luckily, we have Tian here, who is with Africa CDC, so that will help us going forward if we decide to have a meeting with them. Tian, any last comments from you? Any last comments from Joab, Buba, Tian? I want to give the last word we’re in time. Any final comments from anybody before we wrap up?

Tian Johnson  1:22:51

Thanks, Maaza. Just to say that we do have a series of webinars that are planned for the upcoming

months.

Maaza Seyoum  1:23:02

Buba, we hear you. Please mute yourself.  Sorry. Go ahead. 

Tian Johnson

No, that’s fine. I was just saying that we do have a series of webinars planned during May. These webinars will specifically be unpacking the framework that we have developed. I’m sure most of you have seen. If you have not seen it, we are happy to share it. We have developed a framework for equitable vaccine access for Africa, the AU and the African CDC document, in partnership with over 1000 civil society representatives, scientists, researchers, and government agencies across Africa. We launched that a couple of months ago. And the purpose of these webinars will be to unpack that framework. And it will culminate in a live session that we’ll be hosting with the African CDC leadership, the African Union leadership, and of course, some civil society partners. So that’s on the calendar to culminate in May to ensure that the spaces we occupy within the African Union and the CDC are opened to broader civil society.

Maaza Seyoum  1:24:13

Yes, and we will make sure once we have the Google Doc and the WhatsApp group up and running, we will not miss these meetings. So thank you, Tian, for letting us know about that. And we’ll make sure to share those regularly—final words, please, from anyone. Okay, so we’re in time. Thank you so much, everybody, for coming on a Friday. We appreciate it. In solidarity for a free and available vaccine for all soon, hopefully. Thank you very much. We appreciate all of you.

1:24:48

Thanks so much. Thank you. Thank you, everyone. Have a great weekend. Bye. Bye

Maaza Seyoum  1:24:56

bye. Thank you.

1:25:00

Thank you. Bye-bye

Download the Final Meeting Report Here