Saudi-European alliance to transfer vaccine technology to KSA

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Officials of the Saudi Al-Mas International Pharmaceutical Industry and AJ Vaccines at the press conference in Jeddah. — Courtesy photo

Saudi Gazette

JEDDAH — Saudi Arabia is expected to have first of its kind plant to produce locally BCG vaccine for tuberculosis at King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC). This new plant will be cater to the entire Middle East region.

While all the vaccines available in the local and regional markets are imported from abroad, a new Saudi-European technology transfer agreement has given the Kingdom the chance to have trained nationals to produce these vaccines locally and even export them to regional markets.

The plant is expected to be built on an area of 50,000 square meters at the Industrial Valley in KAEC.

The Technology Transfer Agreement was signed between the Saudi Al-Mas International Pharmaceutical Industry and AJ Vaccines. It is anticipated that on completion of the construction work experimental production will start in the mid of 2021. The plant aims to boost the industrial developments and support the pillars of Vision 2030.

Mohammad Al-Esayi, chairman of Al-Mas International Pharmaceutical Industry, said at a press conference here on Wednesday, “There’s a shortage of vaccines particularly with companies not giving these products easily and thus they remain restricted to particular geographical areas.” He added that all vaccines in the market are brought ready from abroad and repacked locally. Their project, he said, would be capable of storing cells to manufacture vaccines locally by Saudis, who will be trained in Europe.

He specified that the BCG vaccine is the first step in this project to join the global vaccine industry and more plants will be added for new production. The project is being designed to include other future plants for new vaccines to fulfill the need of the Saudi market, the Gulf and other regional markets.

Klaus Hermansen, CEO of AJ Vaccines, noted that vaccines saves expenses spent on curing diseases thus they focus more on vaccines which enhance global health. He added that they are ready to transfer European technology to the Saudi market as per the signed agreement.

He said: “We started as a governmental institution for the manufacture of vaccines in Europe nearly 120 years ago in 1902. It is our first time to cooperate with the Gulf countries in such an extensive manner. We hope that we will contribute to achieving health security through these sophisticated and developed technologies. The project aims at securing the needs of vaccines for Saudi Arabia and other regions. It will create many opportunities for the existing Saudi expertise and will pave the way for the future with exchanging experiences with globally known companies.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) said that more than 1 billion persons worldwide were vaccinated using BCG. The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) recommends vaccination of children, especially those living in areas with high rates of tuberculosis.


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