We need a little bit of time, resources to develop vaccines locally – Awandare

Director of the West African Center for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens (WACCBIP) Prof Gordon Awandare, has pointed out that Ghana can be ready for the drive to start the development of vaccines in the country.

He said the drive to start the manufacture of vaccines in the country will not happen overnight because all the countries producing vaccines to combat the dreaded pandemic have had their systems in place long before the advent of the Coronavirus.

Hence all they had to do was to reorganize their systems and plug in new information to enable them to produce the vaccines at a rapid pace for the market.

Prof Awandare also pointed out that the COVID-19 has provided an opportunity for African countries, especially Ghana to pay attention to science and research in the innovation of remedies to combat the dreaded pandemic.

He said the scientific community is happy that Ghana has taken a bold step in taking vaccine development seriously by allocating resources and commitment towards vaccine manufacturing in the country.

Prof Awandare said the scientific community is very encouraged by the Presidential push behind the drive to develop and produce vaccines in the country.

He emphasized that the country can be ready if the commitment is there and there is a national consciousness fully behind the development of vaccines in Ghana.

Prof Awandare pointed out that the vaccine development approach must have the short to medium term strategy and the long term strategy in its manufacture in the country.

He said the short to medium term strategy is to work with pharmaceutical companies in the country by bringing them up to scale to meet the standards in developing vaccines in Ghana.

Prof Awandare said if the commitment and the skilled personnel are there, Ghana can be producing vaccines within 8 months in the country.

He said the long term goal is to think of developing other vaccines and to partner with other scientists on the continent and in the diaspora to bring their expertise home to help develop their own vaccines rather than relying on the already existing ones by western scientists who hold their patents at a ransom price to be able proliferate.

Prof Awandare said if Ghana does this, they can own the intellectual property to new vaccines that will be innovated on the continent and by that Ghana can become a West African hub for vaccine development and manufacturing on the continent and even beyond.

He said that will be the only sustainable way of developing vaccines in the country and if there is another pandemic, which he says is only a matter of time, Ghana could just sequence that virus and start producing vaccines for the market.

Prof Awandare said this at the Future of Healthcare Summit 2021 at the Alisa Hotel on Wednesday, August 25.

“Are we ready? I will say that we can be ready, we can be ready because let’s be honest, these things don’t happen overnight. All the countries that have been able to make vaccines within one year are because they were already making vaccines. They have systems in place for developing vaccines and manufacturing them, so all they had to do was to reorganize the system and plug in new information to be able to produce vaccines. So we can be ready if the commitment is there and there is a national consciousness around it. We need a little bit of time and resources”, he pointed out at the Future of Healthcare Summit 2021.