ADB Establishes High-Level Advisory Group for COVID-19 Vaccines

People queueing for a vaccine
In many countries in the Asia and the Pacific, less than 5% of the population has been fully vaccinated. Photo credit: ADB

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has joined with leading public health experts, vaccine regulators, and policy makers to form an advisory group to provide its developing member countries (DMCs) with expert technical and scientific advice on the quality, safety, and effectiveness of vaccines for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

The Regional Vaccine Advisory Group held its first meeting on 1 July and will help ADB and its DMCs better understand the regulatory oversight, risk management strategies, and pharmacovigilance needed to safely introduce and monitor vaccine rollouts.

“For most of the world, including Asia and the Pacific, the pandemic continues to disrupt lives and economies, and, in some countries, it is intensifying,” said ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa. “ADB’s Regional Vaccine Advisory Group will help to safely introduce COVID-19 vaccines across Asia and the Pacific, and allow people to resume their lives, revive their economies, and in doing so, reduce poverty.”

The inaugural meeting focused on how to increase the supply of COVID-19 vaccines across Asia and the Pacific. In many countries, less than 5% of the population has been fully vaccinated. The advisory group’s forthcoming recommendations will help ADB find ways to connect global and local supply chains and overcome the vaccine supply barriers facing the region.

The Regional Vaccine Advisory Group will meet quarterly and is unique in convening an eminent group of vaccine regulators across Asia and the Pacific and North America. Its members include:

  • Viet Nam’s National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology Director Dang Duc Anh;
  • Canada’s COVID-19 Vaccine Logistics and Distribution Vaccine Rollout Task Force Leader Heather Deehan;
  • Thailand’s Food and Drugs Administration Secretary-General Dr. Paisarn Dunkum;
  • the Philippines’ Food and Drug Administration Director General Dr. Rolando Enrique;
  • Japan’s Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Agency Chief Executive Dr. Yasuhiro Fujiwara;
  • Office of Clinical Evaluation of Biological Products Center for Drug Evaluation in the People’s Republic of China Director Chenyan Gao;
  • Singapore’s Health Sciences Authority Chief Executive Dr. Choong May Ling;
  • Indonesia’s Food and Drug Administration Chairperson Dr. Penny Lukito;
  • ADB Health Sector Group Chief Dr. Patrick Osewe;
  • Republic of Korea’s Biopharmaceuticals and Herbal Medicine Evaluation Department Director General Dr. In-Sook Park;
  • Australia’s Deputy Secretary for Health Products Regulation Dr. John Skerritt;
  • India’s Department of Biotechnology Secretary Dr. Renu Swarup; and

World Health Organization Health Systems and Services Director for the Western Pacific Dr. Martin Taylor.

The Regional Vaccine Advisory Group will add to ADB’s work expanding access to COVID-19 vaccines, including the Asia Pacific Vaccine Access Facility (APVAX) which is providing $9 billion in financing to help DMCs procure and deliver safe and effective vaccines. ADB has developed a $500 million Vaccine Import Facility to work with the private sector to provide much-needed support for vaccine storage, logistics, and distribution, while also providing $77 million in technical assistance to support DMCs to procure urgently needed medical supplies and to roll out vaccine programs including through strengthening regulatory capacity.

ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.

This article was first published by ADB on 1 July 2021.