Africa’s agenda for vaccine development, self-sufficiency on course – Akufo-Addo

President Akufo-Addo is urging African leaders to keep up the momentum in the continent’s quest to develop and manufacture vaccines domestically.

He described as encouraging the progress made over the last one year in advancing the Partnerships for African Vaccine Manufacturing Project, citing the successful initiation of technical work.

“Today is a reaffirmation of our commitment to the rest of the world that the construction of an end-to-end vaccine manufacturing facility – involving Rwanda, Senegal and my own country of Ghana – is truly underway,” he said.

President Nana Akufo-Addo was addressing a gathering of some African leaders in Kigali, Rwanda, as the Central African country inaugurated a BioNTech Vaccine Manufacturing Site.

The development of the Site was funded by COVID-19 vaccine maker, BioNTech, a German company, at the cost of about US$150 million.

The company, which developed the Western world’s most widely used COVID-19 shot with U.S. partner, Pfizer, has laid out a plan to enable African countries to produce its Comirnaty-branded shot under BioNTech’s supervision.

BioNTech aims to start production at its messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) vaccine factory site in Rwanda in 2025 – the first mRNA vaccine manufacturing site to be established by a foreign company on the continent.

The Rwandan facility will be equipped to manufacture a range of mRNA-based vaccines targeted to the needs of the African Union member states, including the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and BioNTech’s investigational malaria and tuberculosis vaccines.

The Company exploits a wide array of computational discovery and therapeutic drug platforms for the rapid development of novel biopharmaceuticals.

Africa, which is dependent on imports of vaccines, currently makes around 90 per cent of the US$80 billion malaria vaccine market, the European Union (EU) has estimated.

The Rwandan project comes barely some eight months after President Nana Akufo-Addo led a ground-breaking ceremony in Accra, Ghana’s capital city, for work to commence on the DEK Vaccine Manufacturing Factory.

The project, on completion, will build the country’s capacity to manufacture 600 million doses of vaccines annually, including vaccines for malaria, pneumonia, rotavirus and cholera, with the full value chain.

It is being spearheaded by the EU and DEK Vaccines Limited, a private sector-led consortium of Ghanaian pharmaceutical companies.

President Nana Akufo-Addo said the import of the Partnerships for African Vaccine Manufacturing Project meant “we have to work together”.

“For us in Ghana, the Project fits perfectly with our roadmap for domestic vaccine development and manufacturing.

“Ghana is playing her role to this end, and I assure you once again of our determination to make the Project work successfully,” the President noted.

The country’s research institutions are undergoing capacity-building to be ready for the discovery and development of vaccines and other biologicals.

The President stressed that the DEK Vaccines Limited was working closely with BioNTech-Rwanda and BioNTech-Germany to achieve the country’s objectives to fill, finish and package vital drug products.

He announced that Ghana’s Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) would soon attain global benchmarking maturity level four, and was also assisting Rwanda’s FDA in its quest to attain the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) maturity level three.

He also cited strong collaboration between the two countries in research, resulting recently in a team from Rwanda visiting research institutions in Ghana.

The aim is to strengthen institutional development and partnership towards vaccine discovery and advancement.

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