The Centre for Ticks and Tick-Borne Diseases was officially launched on Friday 5, December 2014. The centre is currently producing the Muguga cocktail East Coast fever vaccine, which will be distributed to up to 11 countries in Africa.
Everybody I have talked to seems to read from the same script. It’s been a long journey for CTTBD to get where it is today, to be able to launch itself as a centre of excellence for vaccine production and training for young scientists in Africa. There have been a lot of challenges along the way. But also, everyone I have spoken to is optimistic about the future of CTTBD. Why? Because there is so much business potential for CTTBD and many hopes riding on the ECF vaccine. And with a deadly disease ravaging parts of East and Central Africa, threatening millions of livelihoods, the vaccine uptake may not be as big of an issue, but rather meeting the demand.
While giving an overview of the vaccine production at the Centre, Dr. George Chaka, the vaccine production manager at CTTBD mentioned that a vaccine batch takes up to 18 months to produce. Science is a slow process and CTTBD wants to make sure that the quality of their vaccine is very good. But just as science cannot be rushed, death waits for no one (or animal for that matter).
Now that it has been launched, CTTBD has been put to task to meet the market demand. No doubt support from the consumer side was demonstrated by the number of people who attended the launch. Three ministers from countries that are potential customers, together with various heads of departments of veterinary services and a host of other dignitaries were there to witness the launch. Both ministers from Kenya and Uganda assured CTTBD of their countries’ support. It means that for CTTBD, it will not be business as usual. Certain gears have to be engaged to ensure a smooth process from production, marketing and selling of the vaccine, to make sure that their end users have a continuous supply of the vaccine.
That is why GALVmed CEO Peter Jeffries said during the launch that we must reinforce the business model for sustainability of not only the production of the vaccine but for the centre as well. And we all have a part to play. A lot of people have already played a part; GALVmed was singled out as having provided a substantial support to CTTBD. Equipment has been bought, capacity has been built and buildings refurbished. Now CTTBD has to take the mantle and fly with it.
Because it’s a matter of life and death.
And as the farmer representative MP Felix Jumbe said during the launch, “We want to see zero death as a result of ECF.”