The Chairman of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has urged member countries to begin conversations around local production of Covid-19 vaccines.

President Nana Akufo-Addo believes this is the surest way to mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

His call comes when there appears to be a global shortage of the COVID-19 vaccine supply and with countries strategising to deal with a possible third wave of the outbreak.

Speaking at the opening session of the 59th ECOWAS Summit in Accra, Saturday, he said the Community must contribute to the global conversations on access and availability of vaccines for all the world’s peoples. 

“We must, thus, continue to work on the purchase and production of vaccines in our Region. We have to encourage Members of our Community, Nigeria, Senegal, and my own country, Ghana, which is making the effort to produce their own vaccines. We cannot afford to be naked the next time,” he said.

There have been growing concerns about the shortages in many African countries holding back the rollout of urgently needed second doses of the Covid vaccine.

Kenya and Ghana extended the period between the first and second jabs from eight to 12 weeks to relieve the pressure, but along with other countries on the continent, they have found it difficult to secure supplies to complete the vaccination process.

The biggest vaccine maker in India, the COVAX Facility, has struggled to meet foreign demands, especially due to the surge in cases back home.

President Akufo-Addo revealed that Nigeria, Senegal, and Ghana are trying to produce their own vaccines to offshore the impact of herd immunity.

“The recent decision of the G7 to provide more vaccines to developing countries is commendable, just as is its decision on the taxation of multinational companies.

“It is a first step towards addressing the illicit flow of funds, in which these multi-national companies play a major part, and which lead to the huge exodus of resources from our continent. There is still more to be done,” he said.

He also thanked the inter-governmental political forum (G7) for the support in providing vaccines to poorer nations to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.