Wednesday, July 24, 2024
SocietyLocal medical firm aborts COVID-19 vaccine production plans

Local medical firm aborts COVID-19 vaccine production plans

One of the leading private medical firms, Ethiopian Pharmaceuticals Manufacturing S.C (EPHARM) abandoned its plan to produce vaccines for the coronavirus pandemic. It is a decision made after the managers of the company observed the low-demand for the vaccine across Ethiopia.

Since end of last year, the company has been under preparation to begin manufacturing COVID-19 vaccines, after witnessing the death of over 7000 people due to the outbreak.

The managers of the medical firm was also encouraged by the incentive the Ministry of Health granted to encourage local firms produce the vaccine as it tries to meet the goal of vaccinating 20 percent of the population this year.

However, with the expiry of many vaccines imported by the government because of the low-demand to take the jab, coupled with the shortage of foreign currency, the company decided to fully abort the plan of producing the vaccine in a joint venture with a Chinese company.

“Not only the low-demand for vaccines but also the negative perception towards it pushed us to terminate the plan, even though we were prepared to start manufacturing the vaccine,” said Mohammed Nuri (MD), CEO of EPHARM.

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The absence of manufacturing plants is cited as one of the reasons for the low vaccination rate against COVID-19 in the continent, including in Africa.

There are 10 vaccine manufacturing plants in Africa. However, they do not produce active ingredients, but rather add value to imported products.

Ever since Ethiopia received 2.2 million doses of vaccine from COVAX a year ago, more than 21.5 million people received at least one dose, while 20.5 million people have been fully vaccinated.

Efforts are ongoing to increase vaccine uptake to reach a wider proportion of the population, but this was undermined by vaccine hesitancy in bigger cities and towns.

“From a business perspective, it is not viable to manufacture COVID-vaccines,” said Mohammed.

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