Govt invests $25m into local COVID-19 vaccines

With the upsurge in Covid-19 cases, the government has announced a $25 million investment for the local production of vaccines.

The global supply chain has been severely affected with many countries in Africa struggling to secure vaccines.

Ghana is not excluded with President Akufo-Addo expressing fear of a third wave due to the fast-spreading Delta variant of the COVID-19 in the country.

President Nana Akufo-Addo said the latest development has compelled Ghana to develop the capacity to produce vaccines domestically and reduce dependence on foreign supplies.

President Akufo-Addo revealed that the committee established under the leadership of Professor Kwabena Frimpong Boateng, to investigate Ghana’s potential as a vaccine manufacturing hub, to meet national and regional needs, has presented its preliminary report.

Amongst others, the committee recommended the establishment of a National Vaccine Institute.

“Government has committed to injecting seed funding of some US$25 million this year into this whole enterprise,” Mr Akufo-Addo disclosed.

The institute is set to spearhead the country’s efforts at producing vaccines locally amidst a global shortage.

This was made known by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in his 26th COVID-19 address to the nation on Sunday, July 25.

The Institute will be charged with delivering six clear mandates:

-establishing local vaccine manufacturing plants;

-deepening Research & Development (R&D) for vaccines in Ghana;

-upgrading and strengthening the FDA;

-forging bilateral and multilateral partnerships for vaccine manufacturing in various areas, such as funding, clinical trials, technology transfer, licensing, and assignment of intellectual property rights;

-building the human resource base for vaccine discovery, development, and manufacture; and

-establishing a permanent national secretariat to coordinate vaccine development and manufacture.

In the short term, the Frimpong-Boateng Committee is facilitating the capacity of domestic pharmaceutical companies to fill and finish COVID-19 vaccines.

Meanwhile, 1,271,393 vaccine doses have been administered, with 865,422 persons having received a single jab.

A total of  405,971 persons have received their full dose of two (2) jabs.

The government is expecting up to 18million doses of vaccine to continue its vaccination programme by the end of the third quarter.

“We are expecting, through the COVAX facility and the African Union 1,229,670 doses of the Pfizer vaccines from the government of the United States of America, and 249,000 AstraZeneca vaccines from the government of the United Kingdom.

“Government is also in the process of procuring seventeen million (17 million) single dose per person Johnson & Johnson vaccines, through the African Medicine Supply Platform, in this quarter.

“We have, as such, upgraded our national, regional and district cold chain facilities in order to widen our access to vaccines like Pfizer and Modena, that require minus seventy degrees Celsius (-70℃) cold chains.

“These include sixteen (16) ultra-low cold freezers, fifty-eight (58) units of ultra-low freezers, fifty (50) normal vaccine refrigerators, three hundred (300) boxes to be filled with ice packs, three hundred (300) ice packed freezers, ten (10) cold chain vans, and one hundred and twenty (120) temperature monitoring devices,” President Akufo-Addo announced.

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