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COVID-19 Trust Fund votes GH¢2.27m for NMIMR vaccine research

BY: Chris Nunoo
Dr William Collins Asare (left), Administrator, COVID-19 National Trust Fund, and Prof. Dorothy Yeboah-Manu, Director, Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, signing the agreement in Accra. Picture: Samuel Tei Adano
Dr William Collins Asare (left), Administrator, COVID-19 National Trust Fund, and Prof. Dorothy Yeboah-Manu, Director, Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, signing the agreement in Accra. Picture: Samuel Tei Adano

The COVID-19 National Trust Fund has signed an agreement with the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR) for the latter to conduct research into the effects of COVID-19 vaccines on citizens.

Under the agreement, the fund will support the institute with about GH¢ 2,274,000 to embark on the study, which is expected to be completed within 18 months.

The research will include measuring and comparing immune responses with respect to persons who received the different COVID-19 jabs and also determine the extent of the mediated protection of the vaccines.

The Administrator of the fund, Dr William Collins Asare, signed on behalf of his outfit, while the Director of the NMIMR, Prof. Dorothy Yeboah-Manu, initialled for the institute at the Jubilee House in Accra yesterday.

“We are happy to announce that the fund is donating this amount to enable the institute to undertake the COVID-19 vaccine research to establish the durability of immune responses elicited by three different vaccines — AstraZeneca, Pfizer and BioNTech — among the Ghanaian population.

“We are certain that the NMIMR will be able to adhere to the provisions in the agreement and complete the research in 18 months,” Dr Asare said.

He explained that the institute submitted a proposal to the fund seeking to conduct the research, titled: “Comparative assessment of immunological responses and response longevity of different vaccines within the Ghanaian population”.

He said after an in-depth review of the proposal, the fund found it persuasive and convincing and was also sure that the research would contribute effectively to the development of home-grown solutions to combat the virus.

He further expressed optimism that the research would help obtain vital information to support the health system and inform policy on which vaccines the nation needed to prioritise for procurement and utilisation.

“It is recalled that shortly after the outbreak of the pandemic, at a critical moment in July 2020, the fund provided reagents and other laboratory supplies which probably eliminated a possible interruption in the large-scale testing for the virus that was taking place in the country,” Dr Asare said.

Appreciation

Prof. Yeboah-Manu expressed appreciation to the fund for the gesture, saying the money would significantly support the institute in its research work.

She expressed the hope that the study would contribute to guide policy decisions, among other outcomes.

“The donation is very crucial for the work that we do because it will give us the opportunity to do what we do well,” she added.

She gave an assurance that her outfit would complete the research work within the stipulated period of 18 months.

Background

The fund identifies the NMIMR as an important stakeholder in the search to find domestic solutions to the pandemic.

The collaboration between the two institutions, therefore, is expected to contribute to the generation of data to inform the effectiveness of the vaccines among the people and also identify potential factors in how individuals respond to the different vaccines.

The outcome is also expected to help determine the frequency of booster shots which may be necessary to maintain immunity against the virus over time and also inform policy at the national level.

The fund, in a similar fashion, supported the Akuapim Mampong Centre for Plant Medicine and Research (CPMR) with about GH¢18,000 in June this year to research into the development of herbal products against SARS-COV-2 and COVID-19 viruses.

It was also intended to enable the centre to undertake a full-scale research into and the development of anti-viral and immunomodulatory herbal products.