Cabotegravir is a long-acting antiretroviral medicine used as for HIV prevention in people vulnerable to infection. © Isabel Corthier

Clinical trials are a fundamental pillar of the research and development (R&D) process for any new drug or vaccine. South Africa’s involvement in several recent trials has been essential to international pharmaceutical companies’ global rollouts — but, argue Candice Sehoma and Lebohang Kobola, the government needs to stand firm and negotiate more shrewdly for access to these medicines.

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Prepare for the Future

Currently, many low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) are almost entirely dependent on imports and donations of COVID and other vaccines, contributing to vaccine inequity.  

If mRNA vaccine technology from Moderna, BioNTech and Pfizer were shared, manufacturers in low- and middle-income countries could produce vaccines for global pandemic preparedness, as well as diseases of concern such as HIV, TB and malaria.

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What good is a breakthrough medicine if the people who need it can't afford it?