Plant to manufacture yellow fever jab slated for Dakar

Some drugmakers are expanding production in Africa to take advantage of a growing number of countries where rising incomes and national healthcare can pay for new meds. But there is still plenty of unmet need and not all projects are going to draw private investment. Now, through a number of sources of financing, a new plant will be built to manufacture yellow fever vaccine, a protection that has been in short supply.

With funds that include financing from the Islamic Development Bank and the government of Senegal, the Institut Pasteur Foundation in Dakar will invest about €23 million ($25.7 million) to build the new plant in the east of Dakar, ReliefWeb reports. It says the foundation is one of four producers in the world preapproved by WHO to manufacture the vaccine.

The 3,000-square-meter (32,291-square-foot) facility will include a production area and a quality-control laboratory, as well as some administrative space. It will be built on a site in Diamniadio, to the east of Dakar, ReliefWeb reports. It is slated to begin later this year and be complete in 2019.

According to ReliefWeb, there have been insufficient supplies of the jab produced each year to vaccinate the 610 million people at risk for the disease, most of them in Africa. Yellow fever infects about 200,000 people a year and 30,000 annually die from the disease. In 2013, there were reports of people in India paying bribes to get the vaccine after a shortage of it materialized there.

While this project is being financed by some public sources, the number of drugmakers, including Big Pharma, willing to invest in production in Africa is growing. Just this week, India's Strides Shasun reported it would spend up to $14 million to buy a 51% stake in Kenya's Universal Corp., picking up a WHO-approved manufacturing site in the deal.

- read the ReliefWeb report