Institut Pasteur de Dakar (IPD) is a private entity from Senegal that aims to benefit public well-being in the continent through training, education, research, evolving technology, and spreading scientific knowledge.
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation gave a grant to IPD, which is based in Dakar, to back the production of MR vaccines that are to be used in immunization drives in low to middle-income countries in the continent.
IPD announced, “Production will be transferred to the state-of-the-art MADIBA facility, a regional manufacturing hub for COVID-19 and other epidemic vaccines with a capacity to produce 300 million doses for use in Africa.”
As per the announcement, a regional manufacturing center in Dakar called MADIBA will be the production house, and it has previously been used to produce vaccines against COVID-19 among other diseases. The hub has a production capacity of 300M vaccine doses annually for the continent.
According to the institute, the grant from the Gates Foundation will be directed towards intensifying the process of production for GMP rubella and measles material as well as NevoLine technology by Univercells to fast-track the production and inexpensive access to vaccines in the continent.
The CEO of the institute, Dr. Amadou Alpha said that the manufacturing of cheaper vaccines for rubella and measles in the continent will serve as a catalyst in the process of making Africa more vigilant and readier to counter epidemics. It will also improve the supply chain for vital vaccines in routine immunizations.
Dr. Amadou also said that the neighboring countries could reap the benefits of having lifesaving vaccine production in their backyard by improved access to children.
The Chief Operating Officer of Batavia Biosciences, Dr. Christopher Yallop mentioned that the company is fortunate to be working with the IPD and the Gates Foundation to further the innovative technology with a very important manufacturing partner. He also highlighted that the HIP-Vax manufacturing technology that is established on the NevoLine platform is intended to distribute vaccines at a low cost and high yield, which increases access and affordability.
The co-founder of Univercells, Jose Castillo stated that the company feels privileged to be partnered with Batavia Biosciences and IPD and to also be a part of a significant initiative that will benefit the whole continent, as well as the world by improving the access to rubella and measles vaccines. He mentioned that supporting the promoting of the autonomy of biomanufacturing is the most important part of the company’s mission and is eager to see the progression toward regional autonomy.
Initial funding of $12M was given to aid Univercell in the development of an innovative vaccine manufacturing platform six years ago in 2016. It was also aimed to reduce the costs of manufacturing. An additional $5M was given till September 2019, when the project’s proof-of-concept was released.
This initiative ends almost six years of work on a cost-efficient vaccine production platform by Univercell while this IPD partnership is just the latest example of the biopharma industry working in Africa to build a production capacity.