Feasibility studies have begun in Ghana with a view to manufacturing the country’s very own vaccine for the novel coronavirus in time to cut down Ghanaian and Africa’s reliance on foreign vaccines by the year 2040.
The decision to embark on this project has been described by the country’s presidential health adviser, Dr. Anthony Nsiah Asare as a bid to turn “crisis into an opportunity.” This intention to build local capacity to undertake the manufacturing of the vaccine was announced in February, however, Germany has since thrown its weight behind the Ghanaian government, helping to kickstart the process.
Christoph Retzlaff, Germany’s ambassador to Ghana, tweeted earlier this week that his country is “supporting Ghana to do feasibility studies on vaccine production…Leading Global German Pharmaceutical companies are also starting cooperation projects.” The announcement was greeted with positivity across the country.
Dr. Asare, who spoke to a local radio station, explained that the process goes beyond Ghana’s needs. “What we want to do is to position Ghana in such a way that we can be a manufacturer of vaccines – not only [for] COVID-19 – but all other vaccines for the Africa region. This is what we are doing, we have started work and we believe that we will get there,” he added.
Virtually all the vaccines used in Africa for the coronavirus and other existing infections are manufactured outside the continent. This state of affairs has resulted in a dire situation during this pandemic where African countries are at the mercy of philanthropy by developed nations. Cuba is the only developing country in the world to have manufactured strong candidates for a coronavirus vaccine. They are in various stages of testing in different countries with good expectations, according to the country’s authorities.
In February, Ghana became the first country in the world to receive Covid-19 vaccines from COVAX, an international cooperative program whose mission is to ensure that low and middle-income countries are not left behind in the distribution of coronavirus vaccines.
The vaccines, which were part of the first wave of vaccine deliveries headed to several low and middle-income countries, were produced by the Serum Institute of India for AstraZeneca, a joint statement issued by UNICEF Ghana and WHO Ghana said.