By Iyemah David
The West African Health Organisation (WAHO), is working with five potential vaccine manufacturers to produce vaccines including COVID-19 vaccines for the sub-region and export to other countries around the world.
The Director-General of WAHO, Professor Stanley Okolo, announced this in Accra, on Thursday at a high-level meeting to consider efforts being made to boost vaccine manufacturing in the ECOWAS region.
The selected potential manufacturers are DEK Consortium and Atlantic Life Science from Ghana, Innovative Biotech and Biovaccines of Nigeria and Pasteur Institute in Dakar.
Some of the companies have set August and September this year to start building their plants and subsequently start manufacturing vaccines in 2022.
Okolo said, the objective of the meeting was to build a strong collaboration between these manufactures and not to create competition among them.
He explained that some of the potential manufacturers had signed agreements with global vaccine manufacturers to do fill-and-finish and later manufacture their own vaccines.
The DG WAHO said presently, only one per cent of vaccines used in Africa were produced locally.
He stated that the vision was to achieve a 60 percent increase by the year 2024, stressing that the continent has all the rudiments and building blocks to make this happen.
Okolo explained that given the urgency in the sub-region and the vulnerability of the ECOWAS’ population to the COVID-19 pandemic and other diseases, the ECOWAS Commission and WAHO under the ECOWAS Authorities of Heads of States and Governments were facilitating efforts to boost local vaccines manufacturing and other medical supplies in the sub-region.
This, he stressed cannot be achieved without the needed improved infrastructure and human resource capacity.
According to him, the COVID-19 pandemic had shown that low- and middle-income countries have had to rely mostly on donations of vaccines from rich nations.
Okolo explained that research had shown that building continental and regional manufacturing capabilities will contribute to pandemic preparedness and strengthen the response to feature outbreaks.