The foundation for DEKs Vaccines Ltd., a private sector-led coalition of Ghanaian pharmaceutical companies, has been laid by President of the Republic Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
The building of the vaccine manufacturing facility, in the words of President Akufo-Addo, “will help our nation fulfill the aim of becoming self-sufficient in the production and manufacture of vaccines.”
In update number twenty-four (24) of what has come to be known as the “Brother Ghanaian” series of speeches to the nation, the President stated that the vision manufacture vaccines in Ghana began on February 28, 2021, at the sod-cutting ceremony at Media, in the Ga West Municipality.
“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 aim, President Akufo-Addo stated that he formed a team, headed by Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, the former Minister for Environment, Science, Technology, and Innovation, to create a detailed action plan for local vaccine development and production.
He went on to say that this course of action culminated in the announcement of the National Vaccine Institute’s formation in July 2021, 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 (2) 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.
The European Investment Bank, which granted the five million euro (€5 million) grant to launch the initiative, the Consortium of International Partners, the German government, its agency GIZ, and the European Union were all congratulated by President Akufo-Addo for their support of Ghana in this endeavor.
In addition, he expressed gratitude to the members and chair of the Presidential Committee on Vaccine Manufacturing for “their outstanding work in getting us to this stage.”