Signing of the intents in the presence of the President of Senegal, Macky Sall, the Minister-President of the Walloon Government, Elio Di Rupo and the Minister of Economy Willy Borsus.
Walloon biotechnology company Univercells has just signed two declarations of intent with research and drug production centres in Senegal to produce vaccines for the region, including those to combat COVID-19. This step is in line with the Charleroi company's desire to make organic products accessible to all and promote international partnerships in biomedical research. Senegal has also been one of the priority countries for Walloon cooperation for more than 20 years.
The Minister-President of the Walloon Government, Elio Di Rupo, recently welcomed to his offices the President of Senegal, Macky Sall, representatives of strategic Senegalese public health institutions and the Walloon company Univercells. The aim of the meeting was to advance collaborations in line with Senegal's scientific and public health developmental objectives, thereby strengthening the West African country's public health ambitions.
The Senegalese political delegation was accompanied by members of the Institute for Health Research, Epidemiological Monitoring and Training (IRESSEF) and the Pasteur Institute of Dakar (IPD) during its meeting with Univercells. "Working with IRESSEF is a pleasure. Training young people, supporting them in their entrepreneurship, contributing to health research and supporting epidemiological surveillance are fundamental for the ecosystem of Africa in general. This is what motivates us with this collaboration," shared Hugues Bultot, CEO of Univercells.
The Pasteur Institute of Dakar is a leading biomedical and public health research institute in Senegal and West Africa. It has proven expertise in the fight against emerging diseases, with a view to protecting public health and promoting epidemiological surveillance. The IPD is the only WHO-prequalified vaccine manufacturer in Africa and has been producing vaccines for 80 years. "It is an honour for us to work with the Pasteur Institute of Dakar. This is the essence of our mission - Biologics for All", says Hugues Bultot. Indeed, making vaccines and biological medicinal products affordable and developing partnerships are some of our missions. We therefore hope that the highly professional network that will be set up to combat pandemics will grow rapidly, with our present and future technologies."
The COVID-19 pandemic and the emergence of new variants have underscored the importance of a supply of much-needed health products. In the end, these centres are aiming not only to produce vaccines, but also to support research, development and training in the partner country.
The two signed letters of intent concern the creation of a "traditional" vaccine production centre and a COVID-19 vaccine production centre in Senegal, with the longer-term objective of extending this production to all of West Africa. This synergy should enable Senegal and other countries in the region to become self-sufficient in manufacturing their own vaccines.