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Pharma makers call for gov’t support to produce COVID-19 vaccines locally

The Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association of Ghana (PMAG) has tabled a proposal before government, seeking support to equip some local companies to go into manufacturing COVID-19 vaccines as well as other vaccines as a means to ensure some level of security.

The Association is of the belief that even though in the short-term the country will have to heavily depend on importation of the vaccines, there should be a plan to get vaccines manufactured in the country in the medium- to long-term.

Executive Secretary PMAG, Lucia Addae, told the B&FT in an interview that: “The way we want to shift the conversation is that you hear people asking us if we have the capacity, whether we are willing to have vaccines done into the country. The conversation should be: what would it take to ensure that PMAG members or Ghana is vaccine-ready – if not in the short-term, the medium- to long term; what exactly can be done?

“Currently, we have one company – Transatlantic, a subsidiary of Pharmanova – that is coming up with a vaccine manufacturing factory; which is fantastic news, because whatever vaccine is manufactured, we can do so in the country through counter-manufacturing; or we can take the bulk vaccine, bottle and sell here, which will be more affordable for Ghanaians.”

Effect on gov’t finance

PMAG believes the move would greatly help the nation’s finances, as it would not have to spend huge amounts to import vaccines. “Currently, the most affordable one is the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is coming at £3 to £4 per dose and you need 2 doses. The Pfizer vaccine is as expensive as US$39, for which you also need about two doses if you want to complete it about 10 weeks apart.

“What we know currently is that government has promised to make 17.6 million doses available, which means only about 8,880,000 people can get vaccinated because each person will be taking two shots or two doses of what will be given.

“So, it’s going to cost us a lot of money. If it’s £4, the 17.6 million it will be in the excess of £70million. Meanwhile, US$50million can actually set up a manufacturing plant. So, we are pleading with government to help us support the local manufacturers to do bulk-filling so that they can buy from us; even if not in the short-term, in the medium- to long-term,” Ms. Addae said.

Mode of support

The Executive Secretary further intimated that their quest for support “could be financial or non-financial; financial as in affordable finance and non-financial as in government ensuring we have a contract and that they are going to buy from us. Apart from government buying from you, it is very difficult to sell vaccines generally.

“It should even be after COVID-19. What should be the strategy, because polio and a few other vaccines we still import while we can ensure that they are manufactured here in the country. So, there are skills to be upgraded; there are incentives to be granted in whatever form is available,” Madam Addae added.

AfCFTA

According to her, a move like this would help open-up the country to serve the West African market and the continent in general, as the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will serve as a catalyst.

Source:B&FT online

RG Network/Cashmo

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