Story: News Desk
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has cut the sod for the commencement of work on the construction of DEKs Vaccines Ltd, a private sector-led consortium of Ghanaian pharmaceutical companies.
According to President Akufo-Addo, the construction of the vaccine manufacturing plant “will help our nation realise the dream of becoming self-sufficient in the production and manufacture of vaccines”.
Speaking at the sod-cutting ceremony on Tuesday, 18th April 2023, at Media, in the Ga West Municipality, the President indicated that the vision to manufacture vaccines in Ghana began on 28th February, 2021, in update 24 of what has come to be known as the “Fellow Ghanaians” series of addresses to the nation.
“The vaccine nationalism that was played out by the developed world, with the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, meant that we had to take urgent, critical steps towards making sure that never again would we be victims or pawns of the international vaccine order. It was imperative that we took our destiny into our own hands,” he said.
To this end, President Akufo-Addo indicated that he established a committee, under the chairmanship of the former Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, to formulate a concrete plan of action towards domestic vaccine development and manufacturing.
This plan of action, he explained, culminated in the announcement of the establishment, in July 2021, of the National Vaccine Institute, with seed funding of $25 million from the European Investment Bank.
“Indeed, some two (2) months ago, on 14th February 2023, the National Vaccine Institute Bill 2022 was enacted by Parliament, for which I have given assent, and whose Board of Directors will soon be outdoored,” the President said.
He continued, “Its establishment has enabled the National Vaccine Institute work in unison with Ministries, Departments and Agencies in Ghana, to boost our country’s capacity to be self-reliant in the production of vaccines, and bring all of us to this gathering where work on the construction of DEKs Vaccines Ltd will soon begin.”
Whilst appreciating the COVAX, AU and AVATT in COVID-19 vaccine supply initiatives, President Akufo-Addo indicated that Ghana is also venturing into vaccine development and manufacturing with her sister African countries of Rwanda and Senegal, so as to become vaccine manufacturing hubs in sub-Saharan Africa.
“The National Vaccine Institute will co-ordinate and facilitate the capacity of DEKS Vaccines Ltd and other domestic pharmaceutical companies, such as Atlantic LifeSciences, a company operating under Government’s 1-District-1-Factory Programme, which I commissioned in April 2022, to fill, finish and package mRNA COVID-19 and other vaccines such as those against malaria and tuberculosis,” the President said.
He stated that, in the short term of two years, DEKs Vaccines Ltd will fill, finish, and package COVID-19 and the other vaccines for those against malaria and tuberculosis.
“In the medium-term, that is in five (5) years, the target is to continue the establishment of more domestic vaccine manufacturing plants in the country to manufacture vaccines to meet WHO GMP standards, with the long-term target being to produce a candidate vaccine in ten (10) years, using innovative technologies,” he added.
President Akufo-Addo thanked the German Government, its agency GIZ, the Consortium of International Partners, the European Investment Bank, which provided the five-million-euro (€5 million) grant to kickstart the project, and the European Union, which have been assisting Ghana in this endeavour.
He also thanked the chairperson and members of the Presidential Committee on Vaccine Manufacturing “for the excellent work they have done so far in bringing us to this point.”