President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has urged African leaders to keep up the momentum in the continent’s quest to develop and manufacture vaccines domestically.
He described the progress made over the last year in advancing the Partnerships for African Vaccine Manufacturing Project as encouraging, starting from the successful initiation of technical work.
“Today is a reaffirmation of our commitment to the rest of the world that the construction of an end-to-end vaccine manufacturing facility, involving Rwanda, Senegal and my own country Ghana, is truly underway,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo gave the commendation when he addressed some African leaders in Kigali, Rwanda, as the country inaugurated a BioNTech Vaccine Manufacturing Site.
The development of the Site was funded by COVID-19 vaccine maker BioNTech, a German company, at the cost of about US$150 million.
The company, which developed the Western world’s most widely used COVID-19 shot with U.S. partner Pfizer, has laid out a plan to enable African countries to produce its Comirnaty-branded shot under BioNTech’s supervision.
BioNTech aims to start production at its messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) vaccine factory site in Rwanda in 2025, the first mRNA vaccine manufacturing site to be established by a foreign company on the continent.
The Rwandan facility will be equipped to manufacture a range of mRNA-based vaccines targeted to the needs of the African Union member states, including the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and BioNTech’s investigational malaria and tuberculosis vaccines.
The Company exploits a wide array of computational discovery and therapeutic drug platforms for the rapid development of novel biopharmaceuticals.
Africa, which is dependent on imports of vaccines, currently makes around 90 per cent of the US$80 billion malaria vaccine market, the European Union (EU) has estimated.
The Rwandan project comes barely some eight months after President Akufo-Addo led a ground-breaking ceremony in Accra, Ghana’s capital city, for work to commence on the DEK Vaccine Manufacturing Factory.
The project, on completion, will build the country’s capacity to manufacture 600 million doses of vaccines annually, including vaccines for malaria, pneumonia, rotavirus and cholera, with the full value chain.
It is being spearheaded by the EU and DEK Vaccines Limited, a private sector-led consortium of Ghanaian pharmaceutical companies.
Rex Mainoo Yeboah, ISD