Ghana’s Vaccine Team Make Progress

The government’s plan to go into vaccine production is gathering momentum.

The committee set up to devise ways to manufacture vaccines and establish a National Vaccine Institute (NVI) has started working.

The committee, which is chaired by former Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI), cardiologist and renowned scientist, Professor Kwabena Frimpong, said on Friday that “two weeks ago, we presented a charter of the National Vaccine Institute to the President and if it is approved, the Minister of Health will prepare a Cabinet memo on this topic for presentation to Cabinet. If approved, it will then go to Parliament for a law to be passed establishing this institute that is to coordinate the production of vaccine.”

The process is private sector driven even though being spearheaded by government and so far, a consortium made up of three pharmaceutical companies including Danadams, Ernest Chemist and Kinapharma under the brand name (DEK) are those leading the agenda to pay a deposit for a fill and finish plant.

In the pharmaceutical industry, fill and finish is the process of filling vials with vaccine and finishing the process of packaging the medicine for distribution.

Coordinator of Ghana’s Coronavirus Response Programme and member of the Presidential Committee for Vaccine Manufacturing, Dr. Anarfi Asamoah Baah, said the targets set by the committee are achievable.

Dr. Asamoah Baah explained further that there are two major issues that the state is aiming to resolve in terms of vaccine production in the country.

The first, he said, is ability to produce existing COVID-19 vaccines that are already in use in the world and secondly, investing into research to be able to develop vaccines for future pandemics and diseases.

“There are already known vaccines like AstraZeneca and Pfizer, the testing has been done, the research has been done, the vaccine is in use and we want to be able to copy it in Ghana. In order to do that, you need government intervention to facilitate discussion between the original owners so that the private sector can be allowed to copy.

“The second problem we are trying to address is more for the future… how do we develop the capacity to do our own research, discover our own vaccines for future diseases. Those are two different situations and that is what the research institutions need to be supported on a sustained basis for a number of years,” Dr. Asamoah Baah said.

By Charles Takyi-Boadu