By Maxwell Nkansah
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has said that the global shortage of coronavirus vaccines means that Ghana must develop its capacity to produce own vaccines domestically, and reduce the dependence on foreign supplies. He said Ghana must be self-sufficient in this regard in the future, and prepare better to deal with any such occurrences in the future.
To this end, he said in an address to the nation on Sunday July 25 that the Committee he established, under the leadership of the world-renowned Ghanaian scientist, 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 which, amongst others, recommends the establishment of a National Vaccine Institute to spearhead this development.
According to the President, the Government has committed to inject seed funding of some twenty-five million United States dollars (US$25 million) this year into this whole enterprise. The Institute, Mr. Akufo-Addo said will be charged with delivering six clear mandates.
These are 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.
President Akufo-Addo further indicated the government is procuring some 18,478,670 vaccines through the COVAX facility, African Medicine Supply Platform and other bodies.
He noted that these vaccines will arrive in the country in the third quarter of the year. The United States of America through the COVAX facility is providing 1,000,000 Pfizer vaccines; the African Union is providing 229,670 Pfizer vaccines while the United Kingdom is giving out 249,000 AstraZeneca vaccines.
The Government of Ghana 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.