The innovative new partnership between Unizima, Intact, and KeyPlants was planned to revolutionise access to COVID-19 and other vaccines in Africa by manufacturing these vaccines at the Institut Pasteur de Dakar
Univercells company, Unizima, Intact, and KeyPlants have collaborated with the Senegalese government and multiple international funders to establish a first-of-its-kind vaccine manufacturing facility under the management and ownership of the Institut Pasteur de Dakar.
The innovative new partnership was planned to revolutionise access to COVID-19 and other vaccines in Africa by manufacturing these vaccines at the Institut Pasteur de Dakar (IPD) as part of the project known as MADIBA, "Vaccines in Africa, for Africa".
When completed in the first half of 2022, the facility will have the capacity to manufacture at least 300 million doses of vaccines per year.
While the first target will be COVID-19, the facility will include multi-suite drug substance and fill-finish capabilities. It is designed to be modular and flexible to adapt to changing pandemic and global health needs.
When fully operational in 2022, this will be the first site in Africa capable of producing a finished COVID-19 vaccine from raw materials. Unlike traditional facility construction, by using modular off-site construction, IPD can achieve a compressed timeline.
The project has recently secured initial financing as part of a major package of investment in vaccine and pharmaceuticals production in Africa which brings together the Government of Senegal, the European Commission, EU Member States, and the European Investment Bank, and other financial institutions including the French and US development finance agencies and the investment arm of the World Bank.
The total project scope includes US$200 million in funding and IPD will seek to engage one or more licensed COVID vaccine manufacturers to add capacity to their network for vaccine drug substance and fill-finishing to make more doses available to Africa. The long-term vision includes substantial investments in local human capital development with creation of over 200 highly skilled jobs while also developing self-sufficiency in terms of vaccine raw materials used in production.
By using modular off-site construction, IPD can achieve a compressed timeline
Dr Amadou Sall, Director of Institut Pasteur de Dakar, said: "IPD has been producing vaccines for epidemics since the 1960s and is the only WHO prequalified vaccine manufacturer in Africa. This innovative facility is an important step in realising the vision for autonomy for Senegal, West Africa, and across the continent. By using modern technologies and an adaptable approach, we are building to respond to COVID-19 and sustain to be ready for future pandemics."
While the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine has seen some wealthy countries begin to reopen their economies, access to vaccines across Africa has been limited. Less than 4% of people in Africa have had a first or second vaccine, compared to almost 60% in the European Union.
One of the key drivers of this lack of access is a shortage of vaccine manufacturing capacity in Africa.
The facility based at the Institut Pasteur de Dakar is a critical step towards ensuring a sustainable supply of COVID-19, and other, needed vaccines in Africa.
This facility is in line with the stated ambition of the African Union and the African Centre for Disease Control and Prevention to ensure 60% of the vaccines used in Africa are made in Africa by 2040. The partnership is a model for a continent-wide network of vaccine manufacturing sites, responding to local needs but also able to provide rapid access to novel vaccines in the face of a new pandemic or epidemic threat.
Each member of the partnership has been brought in because of their ability to modernise and further enhance existing capabilities at the Institut Pasteur de Dakar. Unizima, a Univercells company, will complete feasibility studies, conceptual design and provide project management services, in a first phase. Technology Transfer as well as operational support will be provided in a second phase. It is expected that other Univercells companies will also contribute to the project in later stages.
Co-founder and CEO of Univercells and Unizima, Hugues Bultot said: "We created a dedicated company, Unizima, precisely for this type of innovative project. Our collaboration with IPD, which brings to bear the full offering of Univercells Group, will prove that a decentralised model of manufacturing, where local facilities meet local demand for vaccines, is both the most resilient, and most sustainable, way of ensuring that everyone, everywhere, gets access to the critical medicines they need."
KeyPlants CEO, Jörgen Harrysson added: "We are proud to be part of this important project together with IPD and partners. KeyPlants will be contributing with our expertise and experience to provide vaccine manufacturing capacity for short and long term needs, supporting IPD's continued success in Africa."
Dr Daniel Py, founder of Medinstill/Instact said: "We are very happy to partner with Dr Amadou Sall, and the investors in the IPD project, who all share the same strong mission: to make vaccines and essential medicines accessible to those in need today. Altogether, we can now deliver, starting with the COVID-19 programme in Senegal, an outstanding stepping-stone."
Following the signing of the initial project funding, Senegal President Macky Sall described the accomplishment as "groundbreaking" and furthermore when visiting Institut Pasteur de Dakar, welcomed the partnership, saying: "Senegal is proud to have established such innovative bioproduction capabilities at IPD. This will advance further our biotechnology industry in Senegal and be the first mover in supporting African vaccine manufacturing autonomy for today and tomorrow."
Unizima, an Univercells company, provides turnkey projects that range from supporting partners in accessing affordable biological products to creating comprehensive solutions for local bioproduction and care capacity. It delivers international biomanufacturing projects from inception to technology transfer and validation, alongside operational support services (quality, supply chain, digital) and bioproduction training programmes, as well as care centres and diagnostics surveillance centers.
Acting as the point of contact for the Univercells Group, we support access to its unique technological portfolio and its expertise in bioprocessing. This allows us to design, build, operate and maintain our clients’ bioproduction facilities.
KeyPlants, headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden, is a leader in modular off-site construction for the life science industry.
All INTACT transfer devices are fully closed, prevent contact of the product or process with the environment, and solve some of the toughest and most costly problems faced by the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, healthcare, food and nutrition, and cosmetic industries.