The Institut Pasteur de Dakar (IPD) in Senegal announced in October 2022 that it was creating a new vaccine programme in collaboration with Univercells and Batavia Biosciences. The programme is funded by a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The development of a measles and rubella vaccine in Africa would speed up and improve affordable access to these critical vaccines across the continent. 

Move to MADIBA 

It is becoming increasingly clear after recent outbreaks that vaccine equity is a problem pertinent to Africa. As a continent it produces only 0.1% of the global supply yet need there is often great. For example, calls to stop monkeypox “at its source” went unheard as other countries held monopolies on potential vaccines. Furthermore, during COVID-19 Africa had the slowest rate of vaccination against the disease. Unfortunately, this might have been prevented by a reduction in vaccine nationalism.  

However, things began to look up in 2022. The IPD and the European Investment Bank (EIB) announced an agreement to develop a manufacturing facility in Senegal. The Manufacturing in Africa for Disease Immunisation and Building Autonomy project (MADIBA) intended to localise vaccine production.  A manufacturing facility was assembled in Sweden and then disassembled and shipped to Senegal in under 8 months. With hopes of starting production at the end of 2022, this could be a game-changer for the African vaccine scene.  

Teamwork and funding 

The project has been supported by a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and will use technology from Batavia Biosciences and Univercells. Batavia’s HIP-Vax production process for GMP measles and rubella material as well as Univercells NevoLine Upstream platform will “accelerate manufacturing and affordable access” according to Univercells.  Dr Amadou Alpha Sall is the CEO of IPD. He believes this project will take the “region” a “step closer to a diversified manufacturing landscape for epidemic preparedness”.  

“This will help countries in the region build autonomy and reach every child with lifesaving vaccines.” 

The COO of Batavia Biosciences, Dr Christopher Yallop, is “privileged” to work with IDP. He hopes that the HIP-Vax technology will increase “affordability and availability”. Finally, the co-founder of Univercells, Jose Castillo, echoed this, describing how “honoured” Univercells is to collaborate with these partners. He commented on the “exciting” prospect of using the NevoLine Upstream platform to “accelerate the manufacture of vaccines in Africa”.

We will hear from a number of speakers with a focus on developing vaccines in Africa and global health from an African perspective at the World Vaccine Congress in Washington 2023. To join us and learn more, click here.