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27 April 2021Big PharmaAlex Baldwin

Ghana in licensing talks to manufacture AstraZeneca vaccine

Ghana’s pharmaceutical industry has asked AstraZeneca about acquiring rights to produce its COVID vaccine locally, buoying the country’s inoculation efforts.

According to a report from Bloomberg, Lucia Addae, executive secretary of the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Association of Ghana, said it was in discussions with the UK pharma giant, but will need support from the government to help purchase the vaccines.

Addae said in a press interview in Accre: “We are having engagements with AstraZeneca mainly on the intellectual property to be able to manufacture their vaccines locally... We need the government's commitment to purchase and a guaranteed market for the vaccines because they cannot be sold on the open market or over the counter.”

The country was the first to receive vaccines through the COVAX initiative, a vaccine sharing scheme from the World Health Organization (WHO), the European Commission and France to provide equitable access to COVID diagnostics, treatments and vaccines.

Ghana received 600,000 vaccines in its first COVAX delivery in February, which covers only a fraction of the country’s 30 million population.

It also received a further 360,000 from India and telecom company MTN as donations.

Equitable access

The debate around COVID vaccine IP is ongoing, with many countries and industry bodies backing the proposal to waive IP rights for COVID vaccines submitted by India and South Africa.

So far, more than 60 countries and countless companies have come out in support of the waiver.

However, the US, UK and Switzerland are some of the biggest opposers, among several pharmaceutical companies.

On Sunday, a group of vaccine makers warned US officials that waiving COVID patents would run the risk of the technology falling into the hands of China and Russia, allowing them to exploit the platforms, according to the Financial Times.

Some countries have suspended patent protection at a national level in order to better address the public health crisis. Earlier this month, Brazilian Supreme Court judge Justice Dias Toffoli announced that the country would suspend the sole paragraph of article 40 of the Brazilian IP Statute—an article that ensures a minimum ten-year term of patent protection for inventions from the grant date.

Brazil decided to suspend the article to protect generic drug manufacturers from IP litigation when creating COVID-19 treatments.

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More on this story

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