Senegal has joined the list of African countries to secure the patent right to manufacture the COVID-19 vaccines in 2022. The country has signed a deal with Belgian biotech group, Univercells to produce these vaccines in the next year. Senegal joins the likes of Egypt, Morocco, and South Africa in the list of African countries that have successfully secured the rights to produce the jabs.

In April, Univercells announced the signing of a letter of intent for collaboration with the Institut Pasteur in Dakar, Senegal. Under the Univercells agreement, the Institut Pasteur supplies Covid-19 vaccines to countries across West Africa using vaccine production technology developed by Univercells. The initial packaging and distribution of these vaccines would begin early next year.

This is good news for Africa. As we reported in our last article, Africa is currently undergoing its third wave. Out of a continent of 1.3 billion people, only 7 million people have been fully vaccinated. Institut Pasteur director Amadou Sall says that the facility is at work with donors to secure financial backing for this huge project. Furthermore, Sall adds that there is a lot of political will for this project to create a real opportunity in Africa.

In other good news, the European Union (EU) said last month that it is willing to invest at least 1bn to build manufacturing hubs in Africa, with Senegal, SA, Rwanda, Morocco, and Egypt among the leading candidates. South Africa’s Biovac Institute has been in contact with the German and French governments and their respective pharmaceutical companies to produce 30m Covid-19 vaccines annually. Further, South Africa’s Aspen Pharmacare is already in the process of Janssen vaccine shots locally.

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