Local vaccine production will spare importation, cushion economy   


With various studies estimating that about 99 percent of all vaccines used by children and adults in Africa are imported, the growing number of companies in the local vaccine and drug manufacturing space could position the country to be self-sufficient in vaccine production and ultimately become a hub in the sub-region, Presidential Advisor on Health, Dr. Anthony Nsiah Asare, has suggested.

With a fully-fledged regulator in the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), a robust pharmaceutical industry and good research and science institutions, he said the country is making great strides to increase its capacity in vaccines and drugs production – a move he is confident will not only impact on health delivery but also socio-economic activities, as it will create jobs for the people.

“Ghana is opening up to become a vaccine-manufacturing hub in Africa. We are moving to vaccine sufficiency and also health security, not only in Ghana but also in the West African sub-region.

“It is going to create a very important impact in healthcare delivery and also in our socio-economic life, because it is going to create very decent jobs. It is going to train our young scientists, medical students, pharmacists, laboratory technicians and then, more importantly, immunologists and scientists in this country; technology transfer is very important.”

Current research has shown that about 99 percent of all vaccines used by children and adults in Africa are imported, with only 1 percent being manufactured within the African sub-region.

However, Dr. Nsiah-Asare – who made these remarks on the side-lines of a technology transfer signing ceremony between a local company, DEK Vaccines Limited and two vaccine manufacturing giants – IVI Korea and EuBiologics – for the manufacture and distribution of oral cholera vaccines in the country – said growing local vaccine and drug production capacity will also save the economy millions in foreign exchange, thereby strengthening the cedi.

Under the tech-transfer agreement that was sealed in Accra, IVI Korea will be the IP holder, EuBiologics the bulk manufacturer and DEK Vaccines Limited the ‘fill and finish’ partner in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry.

The move is aimed at increasing global vaccines production capacity, and reducing disparities in vaccines-access for Africa.

The tech-transfer agreement, according to Dr. Nsiah-Asare, is in line with the Akufo-Addo-led government’s vision to make the country self-sufficient in manufacturing vaccines, following the COVID-19 pandemic that hit the globe.

During the pandemic, President Akufo-Addo – in one of his addresses to citizens on the country’s situation and preparedness to fight the disease, announced the formation of a 13-member committee to come out with a roadmap for local production of vaccines.

“All the president was looking at as a post-COVID initiative was that we should be self-sufficient in vaccine production; and he was not only thinking about Ghana, he was also thinking about the sub-region,” Dr. Nsiah-Asare told the media.

He further noted that looking at the pace of work in the area so far, Ghana will soon be in a position to produce the first doses of serum.

“When we started, people thought it was just a fluke; but now we’re seeing what is happening, and I’m very certain in my mind that with what’s going on with the industries that are coming up – like Atlantic Life Sciences, which has been commissioned by the president, and with work of the DEK going on now – very soon, Ghana will produce the first doses of serum, and then also vaccines and other biologics.

“We are looking at manufacturing vaccines, serum and other biologics on a broad scale; not only producing but also marketing, technology transfer, human capital development – and that to me is the way to go,” he noted.

On February 14, 2023, parliament passed the National Vaccines Institute bill, 2022, into law to facilitate the production of vaccines in the country.

The bill seeks to establish a National Vaccine Institute to coordinate and supervise the research, development and manufacture of vaccines and serum in the country.

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