Ghana to become Africa COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing hub
Ghana is expected to be the leading COVID-19 vaccine manufacturer in Africa following a selection by the European Union (EU).
This was after a meeting between President Akufo-Addo and the Vice President of the European Commission, Valdis Dombrovskis, where the European bloc identified “Ghana as a possible manufacturing hub for COVID-19 vaccines in Africa”.
During deliberations on May 19 and May 20 as part of President Akufo-Addo’s working visit to Belgium, the EU identified initiatives already taken by the government as a stepping stone for the realization of domestic vaccine production.
Director of Communications at the Office of the President, Mr Eugene Arhin, announced the development in a press release on Friday, May 21.
The task force teams from the EU and Ghana will meet shortly to discuss modalities for implementation with possible funding from the European Investment Bank (EIB).
Presently, Africa depends on foreign countries and imports more than 99% of its vaccines and therapies.
Local vaccine production drive
Meanwhile, about three local firms have submitted plans to the government for the development of vaccines.
Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, has said that the companies have factories ready to begin operations once they get approval from the government.
Ghana’s quest for local COVID-19 vaccine production began before its vaccination programme in March 2021.
Leading the charge is Professor Kwabena Frimpong Boateng, a physician and cardiothoracic surgeon who established the National Cardiothoracic Center and the Ghana Red Cross Society.
Ghana’s efforts come after several calls for African countries to invest in the research and development of vaccines.
John Nkengasong, Director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a public health agency of the African Union, had said that African countries must invest in the development of vaccines.
He wants advancement on the continent in areas including vaccines, diagnostics, and medicine.
This, he believes, will considerably reduce dependence on other countries.
Every year, infectious diseases cost the lives of more than 227 million people and produce an annual economic toll of more than $600bn.
Which countries are involved in COVID-19 vaccines
Several countries launched research into COVID-19 vaccines, but few are widely accepted.
The Pfizer–BioNTech COVID‑19 vaccine sold under the brand name Comirnaty was produced by a collaboration between German firm BioNTech in collaboration with US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer.
Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine, codenamed mRNA-1273, is a COVID-19 vaccine developed by the United States National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), and Moderna.
The Oxford/AstraZeneca was co-invented by the University of Oxford together with AstraZeneca plc is a British–Swedish multinational pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical company with its headquarters in Cambridge.
Sputnik V, another effective COVID-19 vaccine, was developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology and registered by the Russian Ministry of Health as Gam-COVID-Vac.
China, where the COVID-19 infection emerged, has approved two vaccines.
Sinopharm developed one, and Sinovac manufactured the other. There are at least 15 other vaccines under development in China.
India has also released its first Indigenous COVID-19 Vaccine known as Covaxin.