Amid the coronavirus vaccine inequality and politics, Ghana’s health authorities, led by the President, are closing in on a major plan to set up a vaccine manufacturing plant within two years.
The project is so important to President Nana Akufo-Addo that he has appointed a legend in the medical field in Ghana and beyond to lead this determination to ensure that vaccines are developed and manufactured in Ghana.
Chairman of the-aptly named Vaccine Development and Manufacturing Committee, Prof Kwabena Frimpong Boateng, told the media on Friday, August 27, 2021, that significant progress has been chalked since he was appointed to head the Committee in February this year.
“Two weeks ago, we presented a charter of the National Vaccine Institute to the President. 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 passed establishing this institute that is to coordinate the production of vaccine,” Prof Kwabena Frimpong Boateng stated.
Prof Frimpong Boateng told journalists and other interest groups at an event to update on the progress of the ambition on Friday that urgency remains key in his committee’s work.
“This is an emergency, and we need to work so that by next year or two, we will get a vaccine made in Ghana,” he was emphatic.
There is more good news.
Prof Frimpong Boateng stated that already three pharmaceutical giants have formed a consortium to see this first-of-its-kind project on the continent is happens in Ghana.
“This process is private sector-led and…DEK, that’s the consortium of these three companies Danadams, Ernest Chemist and Kinapharma, [these companies] are ahead to pay a deposit…and finish the plant,” he added.
The DEK consortium is well within a ten-year plan that Ghana has set to manufacture vaccines for other viral diseases apart from COVID-19.
As part of the plan, within the first two years, the government will lead a private sector fundraising activity to raise over $50 million dollars for the construction of the plant.
This is only a quarter of the $200 million budgeted to build a sustainable plant for all kinds of vaccines.
Prof Frimpong Boateng told impressed stakeholders at the forum that some interested firms in Europe have already facilitated in finding an appropriate manufacturing plant.
He said the located manufacturing plant has gotten the government’s approval – meaning the plant will soon begin operation.
“This Committee, we have a very short mandate. By the end of the year, we should get the institute running and then other people will take over the work we are doing and establish the institute and let it run. I don’t think most of us will be part of the new team that is coming,” he said.
Since the beginning of this year, Ghana has been on a quest to produce coronavirus vaccines locally.
In April this year, Bloomberg reported that Ghana’s pharmaceutical industry has approached AstraZeneca Plc about acquiring the rights to manufacture the U.K. company’s vaccine locally.