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Senegal Institute Gets $50 Million To Improve Africa’s Vaccine Capacity

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The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness (CEPI), stated on Thursday that it would invest up to $50 million over 10 years to aid Senegal’s Institute Pasteur to increase Africa’s ability to produce vaccines at scale.

Richard Hatchett, CEPI CEO, said that the deal, which will retain the capacity to produce vaccines, especially for Global South countries, during future surges in disease- will enable Africa to take control of its health security.

The funds, which will initially total up to $ 15 million over three years, are meant for the development of the institute’s manufacturing facilities for routine and outbreak vaccinations.

A global enterprise headquartered in Norway, CEPI, is building a chain of vaccine manufacturers in developing countries to assist increase capacity and reserve for future outbreaks and pandemics.

Amadou Alpha Sall, CEO of Institute Pasteur de Dakar, a non-profit organization in Senegal’s capital, said, “The facility will ensure regional outbreaks are not neglected by deploying the latest technology for the greatest need.”

Africa, at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, like other poorer regions, was devoid of adequate vaccine supplies and noted the need to develop its production. However, when the shots became available the take-up was slow, as many grew less afraid of the virus and were highly misinformed about the virus.

Africa’s attempts to boost its vaccine production capacity were led by South Africa’s Aspen Pharmacare (APNJ.J).

Initially, Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N) signed a contract to package the American firm’s COVID-19 vaccine drug substance into final doses and supply it back to J&J. The deal was extended, last March, to sell the J&J vaccines under Aspen’s brand in Africa.

But the South African company’s expectations of high demand were not met. The company did not receive any orders of Covid vaccines and J&J orders in its previous contracts were “dwindling”, with its 450 million dose vaccine production line at risk.

A deal was made in August to put Aspen’s almost dormant COVID-19 vaccine production line to work. A pact was signed with the Serum Institute of India to produce and sell four Aspen-branded vaccines for Africa.

To help the deal between the African vaccine maker and the Serum Institute, CEPI and the Gates Foundation invested $30 million in Aspen last month.

Hatchett, indicating the unequal distribution of COVID vaccines to the disadvantage of the developing world, said “I think the system that we had in 2020 produced the only outcome that it could produce.”

He said, “And if we want to change outcomes in the future, we need to change the system. And one of the most important changes… is to support efforts in Africa and elsewhere to increase their vaccine self-sufficiency.”

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