WACCBIP, GIZ host forum on Vaccine Research and Development in Ghana

  Tue, 11 Jun 2024
Health Prof. Gordon Awandare, Pro Vice-Chancellor (ASA), University of Ghana
Prof. Gordon Awandare, Pro Vice-Chancellor (ASA), University of Ghana

The West African Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens (WACCBIP), in partnership with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), held a groundbreaking forum on vaccine research and development today at the WACCBIP Conference Hall.

This special forum, which forms part of activities lined up to mark the 10th anniversary of the establishment of WACCBIP, brought together key stakeholders in the vaccine development sector, aiming to foster collaboration and advance the region's capabilities in vaccine research and development.

Prof. Gordon Awandare, the host and Director of WACCBIP, opened the event with a welcome address, describing it as a "very historic forum where we’re bringing stakeholders in the vaccine development space in the country to share ideas and discuss where we are as country in terms of our capacity `to produce vaccines and where we need to go." He used the opportunity to introduce the chairperson of the forum, in the person of Prof. William Ampofo, the Chief Executive Officer of the National Vaccine Institute.

Prof. William Ampofo in his opening remarks emphasised the importance of supporting vaccine candidate development and the critical role of the private sector in manufacturing. He stated that “clearly the need for us to develop our own manufacturing capacity, the need for us to be able to do research and development to feed our manufacturing and to be able to make our own vaccines is a major issue.” He underscored the need for robust infrastructure to sustain vaccine production and distribution in Ghana.

On his part Dr. Dirk Aßmann, Country Director for GIZ Ghana highlighted the benefits of local vaccine production and also emphasized the need for the joint efforts between GIZ Ghana and the National Vaccine Institute to establish Ghana as a vaccine manufacturing hub. His insights resonated with the forum's theme of collaboration and capacity building.

Dr. Yaw Aniweh, a Senior Research Fellow and Principal Investigator at WACCBIP, presented on the Centre’s cutting-edge research in malaria vaccine target discovery at the Centre. His presentation highlighted the strides being made in understanding and combating malaria through innovative vaccine strategies.

Following this, was Dr. Irene Owusu Amoako, a Postdoctoral Fellow at WACCBIP, who provided an update on her research into the expression and durability of multi-variant SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibodies post-vaccination. “Cross-neutralizing antibodies have been shown in SARS-CoV-2. An increase in exposure by wave should increase antibody levels; however, we noticed a dip in wave 2. The pandemic has been declared over, but we still have many questions to answer,” she stated in her presentation. Her findings offer critical insights into the long-term efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines.

Adding to the discussion on COVID-19, Dr. Eliza Kwesi-Maliepaard, Research Scientist from Yemaachi Biotech, presented comparative studies on the dynamics of cellular responses to COVID-19 vaccines among Ghanaian and UK vaccinees. Her research highlighted important differences and similarities in vaccine responses, contributing to a better understanding of vaccine performance across diverse populations.

The forum concluded with an engaging panel discussion on vaccine production, featuring industry experts including Mr. Farhan Khan, the Project Manager for DEK Vaccine; Mr. Emmanuel Hayford, Quality Assurance and Regulatory Affairs Manager at Atlantic LifeSciences, and Dr. Yaw Bediako, the CEO of Yemaachi Biotech. This session provided valuable perspectives on the practical challenges and opportunities in scaling up vaccine production in the region.

The forum not only showcased the latest advancements in vaccine science but also reinforced the importance of collaboration in addressing public health challenges.

Prof. William Ampofo, CEO of the National Vaccine InstituteProf. William Ampofo, CEO of the National Vaccine Institute

Dr. Dirk Aßmann, Country Director, GIZ GhanaDr. Dirk Aßmann, Country Director, GIZ Ghana

Dr. Yaw Aniweh, Senior Research Fellow (WACCBIP)Dr. Yaw Aniweh, Senior Research Fellow (WACCBIP)

Dr. Irene Owusu Amoako, Postdoctoral Rellow (WACCBIP)Dr. Irene Owusu Amoako, Postdoctoral Rellow (WACCBIP)

A cross section of the audienceA cross section of the audience