The African continent currently imports nearly 99% of the vaccines it needs. As a result, countries in this region face significant challenges in developing and deploying the drugs and vaccines that they require. In April 2021, the African Union Commission and the African Centers for Disease Control asked that efforts be made to produce 60% of these vaccines locally by 2040.
The production of biologics is complex, resource intensive and requires extensive technical expertise. Given the concentration of biomanufacturing in so few countries, the skills and technology required for the establishment of a robust production ecosystem are often difficult to access and therefore implement
The Institut Pasteur de Dakar (IPD) launched an innovative partnership to revolutionize production and access to vaccines in Africa. Working in collaboration with the government and international funders, a first-of-its-kind vaccine manufacturing facility has been established in Senegal to support the regional targets for self-sufficiency.
Vaccines will be manufactured at the IPD facilities as part of the MADIBA project (Manufacturing in Africa for Disease Immunization and Building Autonomy). Unizima plays a facilitating role in this partnership by providing support for workforce development, project management and implementation.
The project leverages cutting-edge equipment including Univercells Technologies’ NevoLine™ Upstream platform and MedInStill’s Pouch Filling Machine.
In March 2022, Unizima also launched the ‘University Partnership’ project, designed to support biomanufacturing upskilling in Senegal. Members of the Université Amadou Mahtar Mbow de Dakar arrived in Brussels to work with Université Libre de Bruxelles in a practical six-month internship at Quantoom Biosciences. This project includes the development of an updated curriculum in Bioinformatics which the two universities designed in partnership.
With advisory, strategic, and technology support from Unizima and Univercells Technologies, the MADIBA project aims to expand overall capacity and deliver on its mandate to achieve Senegalese national bioproduction targets and hit the regional target set by the African Union and African CDC. When completed, the facility will have capacity to manufacture at least 300 million doses of vaccines per year and will include multi-suite drug substance and fill-finish capabilities.
In October 2022, supported by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, IPD announced a program for the in-house development and manufacturing of a Measles and Rubella vaccine. This used Batavia Biosciences’ Hip-Vax intensified production process and Univercells Technologies’ NevoLine™ and scale-X TM platforms.
Through our University Partnership project, students and teachers from Senegal are engaging with colleagues from Belgium and Europe. This will give them hands-on experience working on our next-generation technology. The Bioinformatics curriculum will support the development of highly trained professionals who will be able to advance the national and regional biomanufacturing ecosystem in the years ahead.