‘Africa needs to push more for local vaccine production’

'Africa needs to push more for local vaccine production'

Alfred Olufemi<

A Medical Laboratory Scientist, Dr. Dennis Adu-Gyasi, has urged African countries to intensify efforts to fast-track local production of vaccines.

The scientist also stated that after local production of vaccines is achieved in Africa, the continent will also have to take steps to ensure their acceptance outside the continent.

Adu-Gyasi who holds a Master’s Degree in Infectious Diseases and a doctorate in Immunology made the call during a panel session at an ongoing conference in Ghana.

Recall that PUNCH Healthwise had earlier reported the convergence of West African medical experts in Ghana to discuss local vaccine production and other related issues in the subregion.

The participants are majorly medical laboratory scientists, research professionals, academia, regulators, policymakers, and medical product manufacturers and suppliers.

While speaking during a panel session on Wednesday, Adu-Gyasi stressed the need for local vaccine production in the subregion. 

“Africa as a continent, with a population of over 1 billion…It is high time we start thinking about ourselves by ourselves. 

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“If we have a country like Ghana driving a vaccine development agenda, it is good for the continent and others can follow suit,” he said.

He stated further that Africa can do a lot about vaccine production and does not need to depend on grants from Europe or other foreigners.

He also expressed pessimism about the acceptability of vaccines made in the region saying that the Western world may not accept them.

“It will be difficult for them to accept vaccines from Africa. They don’t trust us, particularly because of our health system. Producing is one thing, accepting it for use is another matter,” Adu-Gyasi noted.

The scientist further stressed the need to do more qualitative research on the COVID-19 pandemic in Africa.

He stated that there are some hypotheses on the reason for the comparatively low rate of COVID-19 deaths and infections in Africa, but noted that none has been proven yet.

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Another panelist, Dougbeh Nyan, who joined the meeting virtually, lamented the hesitancy of many Africans to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Nyan, a Liberia-based medical doctor and biomedical research scientist blamed this on the refusal of high-profile officials to take the vaccine doses and poor level of awareness.

“In Liberia, high officials were not taking it and that created fear among the citizens,” he said.

He, however, encouraged stakeholders to continue to create awareness to curb vaccine hesitancy.

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