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01.03.2021 Feature Article

COVID-19 Vaccine production in Ghana

COVID-19 Vaccine production in Ghana
LISTEN MAR 1, 2021

The President in his 24th address on COVID-19 on Sunday night 28 February announced the establishment of a committee to produce an action plan for vaccine production in Ghana. See https://www.myjoyonline.com/were-working-to-develop-and-manufacture-vaccines-in-ghana-akufo-addo/

Development of vaccine manufacturing capacity should have started in Ghana last year when it looked like COVID-19 was not going anywhere soon. Still, the dive into it now is welcome news indeed but a different approach should be taken

The announced chair of the committee should have been a current or recently retired researcher in the field from either of the two-mega biomedical research institutes in Ghana and a politician or former minister. Nothing personal, only that my preferred appointment is best world practice in such appointments

If the idea is to establish vaccine manufacturing capacity, we may well start with going through steps in production of a vaccine against an infection of immediate and existential threat – and no where better to start than with “replicating” CoronaVac – the COVID-19 vaccine produced by the Chinese biopharmaceutical company Sinovac,

Why CoronaVac? Because CoronaVac is the quickest and simplest of the current crop of Emergency use authorised COVID vaccines and with competing efficacy and safety levels

CoronaVac containing the inactivated/weakened virus is technologically easy to produce, or in Ghana’s case technologically appropriate, whereas production of the other vaccines are technology (equipment/human resource) intensive and challenging - the mRNA for the viral spike protein in the vaccine (Pfizer and Moderna) or in altered adenoviruses of Chimpanzees (AstraZeneca) or humans (Sputnik V, Sputnik light, Janssen) or the spike protein itself plus adjuvant in the so-called protein based vaccine Novavax

With that in mind an appropriate chair and committee should be specifically tasked with drawing a costed timetable for production and trials of CoronaVac in our settings. With the vaccine manufacturing capacity in place we can then move on to experimenting with malaria vaccine production on an ongoing basis.

Nii Armah Kweifio-Okai

Melbourne

01 March 2021

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