The European Investment Bank (EIB) committed 75 million euros to fund the construction of a new facility in Senegal that will manufacture COVID-19 vaccines for use throughout Africa.
The plant, run by the Institut Pasteur in Dakar, is intended to help Africa reduce its reliance on vaccine imports, which currently meet 99 percent of the continent’s needs. It will manufacture vaccines for COVID-19, yellow fever, and other endemic diseases.
In 2021, the EIB and the European Union donated 5 million euros for feasibility studies and project preparation for the plant.
Institut Pasteur hopes to start producing vaccines before the end of the year. At full capacity, it should be able to produce up to 300 million vaccine doses per year, according to the EIB in a statement announcing the new funding.
Last year’s rollout of COVID vaccines was delayed due to Africa’s reliance on outside manufacturing. Doses have since been implemented, but inoculation rates in many countries remain low due to logistical challenges and vaccine hesitancy.
“It is essential to create decentralised vaccine manufacturing capacity to address this imbalance and ultimately build a safer and healthier world,” said Amadou Alpha Sall, Institut Pasteur‘s director in Senegal.
The Senegalese government and the Paris-based Institut Pasteur jointly run the institute in Dakar.
“Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, we have maintained that no one is safe until everyone is safe,” said Irene Mingasson, the head of the EU delegation to Senegal.
Several initiatives to boost vaccine manufacturing in Africa have been launched during the pandemic, but some have failed.
After receiving no orders, South Africa’s Aspen Pharmacare (APNJ.J) announced last month that it may reduce its capacity to package and sell Johnson & Johnson’s COVID vaccine.
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