Addressing a meeting with the press as part of stakeholder consultation towards the production of COVID-19 vaccines in Ghana on Friday the 27th of August 2021, Dr Anarfi Asamoah Baah, co-ordinator of Ghana’s Coronavirus Response Programme and member of the Presidential Committee for Vaccine Manufacturing, said the Committee’s work so far indicates that the target is 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 is the 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 Astra Zeneca, like 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.
Presidential Adviser on Health
Corroborating the assertions of Dr Asamoah Baah, the Presidential Adviser on Health and also a member of the Presidential Committee for Vaccine Manufacturing, Dr. Anthony Nsiah-Asare noted that the next two years, the target is to build capacity to enable the production of already existing vaccines on the market.
He explained further that thus far, three private pharmaceutical organizations, Ernest Chemist, Dan Adams and Kinapharma (DEK) have initiated processes towards the procurement of COVID-19 vaccine production equipment and the government is offering them all the support necessary for same.
National Vaccine Institute
Professor William Ampofo, Head of Virology Department of Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research and secretary to the Presidential Committee on Vaccine Production in Ghana, on his part, said that due to the complex nature of vaccine production, a National Vaccine Institute would be the country’s best bet to support the plan to achieve local COVID-19 production within the next two years.
“The permanent secretariat will enable the coordinating with various existing ministries, departments and agencies in harmonizing what we already have to enable us to have a better system to establish vaccine manufacturing,” Professor Ampofo said.
President Akufo-Addo, in his 24th COVID-19 address to the nation on Sunday, February 28, 2021, announced the formation of the Vaccine Production Committee. In the address, the President stated his vision of ensuring that we produce COVID-19 vaccines locally in Ghana.
“I want to reiterate my determination that we should manufacture vaccines here in Ghana. To this end, a committee has been established under the chairmanship of the former Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, the world-renowned scientist, Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, which is formulating a concrete plan of action towards vaccine development and manufacturing,” the President said in his speech.
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