The National Vaccine Institute Bill, 2022, has been passed by Parliament.
The Bill proposes to establish the National Vaccine Institute to coordinate and supervise vaccine and serum research, development, and manufacturing, as well as other related matters.
In his 26th Covid-19 update, President Akufo-Addo stated that the government has committed $25 million to the establishment of a National Vaccine Institute to spearhead the manufacture of vaccines to meet national and regional needs.
Speaking to journalists, Kwabena Mintah Akandoh, the Ranking Member of Parliament’s Health Committee, said the bill would help in dealing with situations where procured vaccines are not delivered on time.
“In principle, I have nothing against the establishment of a vaccine institute. It is a good move. The object of the Act will be obeyed because it says, we are going to research, develop and do the manufacturing of the vaccines in the country. I do not want to see a situation where we will resort to what we call fill and finish, which is just the packaging of the vaccine in the country. So now, the situation where a government will be paying another country for vaccines and in some cases not getting our money will be prevented. So in essence, the Bill has been passed.”
The establishment of the institute forms part of recommendations by a committee established by the government to formulate a concrete plan for vaccine development and manufacturing in Ghana.
The idea came about due to the challenges Ghana has faced in its attempt to acquire COVID-19 vaccines.
The institute, according to the President will be charged with delivering six clear mandates:
1. Establishing local vaccine manufacturing plants;
2. Deepening Research & Development (R&D) for vaccines in Ghana;
3. Upgrading and strengthening the FDA;
4. Forging bilateral and multilateral partnerships for vaccine manufacturing in various areas, such as funding, clinical trials, technology transfer, licensing, and assignment of intellectual property rights;
5. Building the human resource base for vaccine discovery, development, and manufacture; and
6. Establishing a permanent national secretariat to coordinate vaccine development and manufacture
But the Africa Center for Health Policy Research and Analysis has cast doubt on the government’s intention to establish a National Vaccine Institute as part of efforts to build a local vaccine manufacturing industry.
Executive Director of the Africa Center for Health Policy Research and Analysis, Dr. Thomas Anaba, said the government has made such promises in the past, but none has materialized yet.
He said the planned National Vaccine Institute can only be achieved in about 15 years, hence the government must in the short to medium term form strategic partnerships with other countries for the manufacture of vaccines.
“I was sceptical about the 88 hospitals and research centres, and indeed they have not yet materialized. So how do I believe in something that we are going to spend $25 million on? Let’s go in and partner with other countries to get the vaccine made for us while we think of a long-term strategic plan maybe, 15 years; so that by 15-years’ time, Ghana has its own laboratory that can manufacture vaccines,” he said.