Merck Collaborates with Innovative Biotech to Support Establishment of First Vaccine Production Facility in Nigeria

– Supports West African pandemic readiness program

– Accelerates self-sufficient vaccine development and manufacturing in West Africa

LAGOS, Nigeria, Dec. 14, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Merck, a leading science and technology company, today announced that it has signed an agreement with biotechnology company Innovative Biotech (IB) to design the manufacturing process for the first vaccine production facility in Nigeria.

Merck collaborates with Innovative Biotech to design the manufacturing process for the first vaccine production facility in Nigeria. Pictured left to right: Dr. Jose M Galarza, CEO, TechnoVax; Mr. Sohal Shah, Strategic and Financial Adviser, TechnoVax; Dr. Simon Agwale, CEO, Innovative Biotech; Dr. Andrew Bulpin, Head of Process Solutions, Life Science business sector of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany.

“We are committed to expanding access to life-saving and life-enhancing therapies to patients across the world and this collaboration is a testament to that commitment,” said Andrew Bulpin, Head of Process Solutions, Life Science business sector at Merck.  “We are proud to provide the technical support and expertise that could help enable the first vaccine facility in Nigeria and localize vaccine development in the West Africa region.”

This collaboration is part of the West African pandemic readiness program, which aims to localize vaccine development in the African nations. The first phase of this integrated partnership focuses on designing the fill and finish facility, incorporating the company’s Mobius® single-use technology, while the second phase will focus on enabling continuous manufacturing.

“By leveraging the company’s facility design expertise, we’ll be able to build the first vaccine production facility in Nigeria and manufacture high-quality and affordable vaccines locally,” said Simon Agwale, CEO of Innovative Biotech.

Innovative Biotech’s licensor, TechnoVax, is developing a virus-like-particle (VLP)-based vaccine to target variants of Covid-19. Provisional results from the preclinical studies of the VLP-based vaccine have shown promise for virus neutralization. Technovax is a 2019 recipient of Life Science’s Advance Biotech Grant for developing a virus-like particle platform that facilitates the development and production of a range of vaccines targeting the prevention of respiratory diseases, hemorrhagic fevers, immunodeficiency and cancers.

The Life Science business sector has been supporting Innovative Biotech’s effort with its BioReliance® testing services, technical transfer support and single-use facility design. This partnership showcases the company’s commitment to supporting the building of manufacturing capabilities in the Middle East and Africa.

About Merck
Merck, a leading science and technology company, operates across healthcare, life science and electronics. Around 58,000 employees work to make a positive difference to millions of people’s lives every day by creating more joyful and sustainable ways to live. From advancing gene editing technologies and discovering unique ways to treat the most challenging diseases to enabling the intelligence of devices – the company is everywhere. In 2020, Merck generated sales of € 17.5 billion in 66 countries.

Scientific exploration and responsible entrepreneurship have been key to Merck’s technological and scientific advances. This is how Merck has thrived since its founding in 1668. The founding family remains the majority owner of the publicly listed company. Merck holds the global rights to the Merck name and brand. The only exceptions are the United States and Canada, where the business sectors of Merck operate as EMD Serono in healthcare, MilliporeSigma in life science, and EMD Electronics.

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Adagio Therapeutics Reports Reduction in In Vitro Neutralizing Activity of ADG20 Against Omicron SARS-CoV-2 Variant

Previously Reported In Vitro Data Demonstrating that Individual Omicron Mutations Were Not Associated with ADG20 Escape Do Not Translate to Omicron Authentic and Pseudovirus Assays

WALTHAM, Mass., Dec. 14, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Adagio Therapeutics, Inc., (Nasdaq: ADGI) a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery, development and commercialization of antibody-based solutions for infectious diseases with pandemic potential, today provided an update following external in vitro analyses to evaluate neutralizing activity of ADG20 against the Omicron SARS-CoV-2 variant. The in vitro data generated through both authentic and pseudovirus testing of the Omicron variant show a greater than 300-fold reduction in neutralizing activity of ADG20 against Omicron. Additional analyses are ongoing, and the company plans to engage with regulatory and government agencies to assess the role ADG20 can play for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19, particularly as the industry’s understanding of the epidemiology and impact of Omicron and potential new variants develops.

“Due to the highly conserved and immunorecessive nature of the epitope recognized by ADG20, we anticipated that ADG20 would retain neutralizing activity against Omicron, consistent with activity observed in in vitro models with all other known variants of concern,” said Tillman Gerngross, Ph.D., chief executive officer of Adagio. “While the individual mutations present in the Omicron receptor binding domain were not associated with escape from ADG20 in the context of an original strain of the virus, new data show that the combination of mutations present in the Omicron spike protein led to a reduction in ADG20 neutralization that was not suggested by prior data. The continued prevalence of the Delta variant in the U.S. and other countries, evolution of SARS-CoV-2 variants and potential future coronaviruses means a multitude of therapies and approaches are needed. With an expert team committed to advancing antibody solutions that combat this unprecedented pandemic and a strong balance sheet, we’re conducting additional analyses to assess the optimal path forward with ADG20 as both a prophylactic and treatment option for COVID-19.”

ADG20 is an investigational monoclonal antibody (mAb) product candidate designed to provide broad and potent neutralizing activity against SARS-CoV-2, including variants of concern, for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19 with potential duration of protection for up to one year with a single injection. In previously disclosed in vitro studies, ADG20 retained activity against prior variants of concern including Alpha, Beta, Delta and Gamma. In addition, in vitro data demonstrated retained neutralizing activity of ADG20 against a diverse panel of circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants, including the Lambda, Mu and Delta plus variants. The safety and efficacy of ADG20 have not been established, and ADG20 is not authorized or approved for use in any country.

Adagio is currently evaluating ADG20 in global Phase 2/3 clinical trials for both the prevention and treatment of COVID-19. Based on the in vitro findings related to Omicron, Adagio plans to pause patient recruitment in its Phase 2/3 COVID-19 treatment trial at clinical sites in South Africa, where Omicron has emerged as the dominant variant. Adagio is evaluating next steps for its ADG20 program.

In vitro analyses were also conducted on ADG10, a second mAb in development, which showed minimal neutralizing activity against the Omicron variant in both authentic and pseudovirus neutralization assays.

About Adagio Therapeutics
Adagio (Nasdaq: ADGI) is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery, development and commercialization of antibody-based solutions for infectious diseases with pandemic potential, including COVID-19 and influenza. The company’s portfolio of antibodies has been optimized using Adimab’s industry-leading antibody engineering capabilities and is designed to provide patients and clinicians with the potential for a powerful combination of potency, breadth, durable protection (via half-life extension), manufacturability and affordability. Adagio’s portfolio of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies includes multiple non-competing, broadly neutralizing antibodies with distinct binding epitopes, led by ADG20. Adagio has secured manufacturing capacity for the production of ADG20 with third-party contract manufacturers to support the completion of clinical trials and initial commercial launch, ensuring the potential for broad accessibility to people around the world. For more information, please visit

Forward Looking Statements
This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Words such as “anticipates,” “believes,” “expects,” “intends,” “projects,” and “future” or similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements include statements concerning, among other things, the timing, progress and results of our preclinical studies and clinical trials of ADG20, including the timing of future program updates and the initiation, modification and completion of studies or trials and related preparatory work, the period during which the results of the trials will become available and our research and development programs; the additional and ongoing analyses to evaluate the activity of ADG20 against the Omicron variant and the potential of ADG20 to play a role as both a prophylactic and a treatment option for COVID-19; the risk/benefit profile of our product candidates to patients; and the adequacy of our cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities. We may not actually achieve the plans, intentions or expectations disclosed in our forward-looking statements and you should not place undue reliance on our forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties that could cause our actual results to differ materially from the results described in or implied by the forward-looking statements, including, without limitation, the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on our business, clinical trials and financial position, unexpected safety or efficacy data observed during preclinical studies or clinical trials, clinical trial site activation or enrollment rates that are lower than expected, changes in expected or existing competition, changes in the regulatory environment, and the uncertainties and timing of the regulatory approval process. Other factors that may cause our actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied in the forward-looking statements in this press release are described under the heading “Risk Factors” in Adagio’s Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended September 30, 2021 and in Adagio’s future reports to be filed with the SEC. Such risks may be amplified by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Forward-looking statements contained in this press release are made as of this date, and Adagio undertakes no duty to update such information except as required under applicable law.

Media Contact: Investor Contact:
Dan Budwick, 1AB Monique Allaire, THRUST Strategic Communications

Soaring prices of agro-inputs threaten food security – Farmers

Assin-Homaho (C/R), Dec. 14, GNA – Some farmers in the Assin South District of the Central Region have bemoaned the soaring prices of agro-inputs and logistics, saying they threaten food security.


The price hikes were a drawback to government’s efforts to sustain national food security through the Planting for Food and Jobs and Export.


The farmers expressed these concerns in an interview with the Ghana News Agency on the sidelines of the Annual Farmers Forum held at Assin-Homaho on Monday.


They complained about the recent price hikes in agro-inputs such as agro-chemicals, fertilizers, cutlasses, spraying and irrigation machines.


Mr Kofi Akwanu, the Chairman of the Farmers Forum, said prices of major agro-chemicals had witnessed over a hundred per cent increase in less than six months.


Giving examples of agro-chemical price increase, he said the price of Adwumawura has risen from GH¢15.00 to GH¢39.00, Gramoquat from GH¢15.00 to GH¢ 37.00, Kingkon GH¢30.00 to GH¢40.00, Akate Star GH¢40.00 to GH¢ 70.00, and Adama GH¢45.00 to GH¢75.00.


Mr John Dadzie, an agro-inputs seller, blamed the price hikes on high import duties, depreciation of the cedi, transportation cost and high profiteering attitudes of some sellers.


“Many people are only interested in huge profits as against reasonable pricing to cushion farmers. This is preventing many youth from farming,” he said.


Mr Daniel Djan, a 51-year-old farmer, appealed to the Government to construct and rehabilitate roads in farming communities to boost economic activities.


“The bad nature of the roads is making life difficult for farmers in such communities to cart their foodstuffs to the market centres to reduce post harvest losses,” he said.


He said the only reliable means of transportation was motobikes, popularly known as Okada, however due to the rains and bad nature of the road, the Okada riders charged exorbitant fees.


“Sometimes for lack of means of transportation, people living in these communities trek long kilometres to get to a healthcare centre,” he added.


Other farmers expressed worry over the poor network services of mobile telecommunication companies in farming communities, saying the benefits of the E-Agriculture, which was launched by government, would be thwarted if it was not addressed.


The “e-agriculture” system is a platform that enables agricultural experts, farmers and community members to exchange opinions and resources relating to agriculture for mutual gains.


It is hinged on delivering agricultural information and services such as market prices, extension services, technology, policies, programmes and projects using the internet and related technologies.


Some of the farmers believed that erecting some additional telecom masts would lessen the problem as they believed there was pressure on the telecos.


They said reaching the police for assistance would be a challenge if one needed to report a criminal activity, and called on the government and network operators to put in measures to resolve the problem.


Source: Ghana News Agency


“It is Possible” Agribusiness roadshow slated for Thursday

Accra, Dec 14, GNA- The office of Dr. Zanetor Agyeman-Rawlings, Member of Parliament for Korley Klottey, in partnership with Agrihouse Foundation, an Agribusiness non-governmental organisation, is to roll out an agricultural capacity building programme on December 16.


The three-day intensive and practical Agricultural Capacity Building and Business Set-Up Roadshow (NAGRICA) themed: “It’s Possible” is targeted at the youth of Ghana.


The first leg of the training for beneficiaries in Greater Accra region would start from Thursday, 16 December through to Saturday,18 December.


A statement copied to the Ghana News Agency in Accra on Tuesday, said 7, 11 applications were received in the Greater Accra region.


“A hundred and fifty (150) applicants were shortlisted from the screening, with 20 extra beneficiaries from the physically challenged community,” it said.


It said the upcoming three-days training programme would cover practical training lessons on mushroom farming, rabbit and snail rearing, with the snail rearing reserved solely for the physically challenged amongst the participants.


According to the statement, among the topics to be treated at the training would be rabbit, mushroom and snail production; Processing and Packaging; Accounting and Book-keeping; Stock Distribution; Nutrition, Feeding, housing, Marketing (Branding); and other Leadership and Mentorship sessions.


It said: “At the end of the training, each participant shall be equipped with starter packs, such as: 6-room cages, 2 female rabbits (does) and 1 male rabbit (duck); Training Manual, as well as certificates of participation.”


The statement said the participants would be taken through sessions such as accessing funds, operating a livestock business, highlights on existing standards, compliance and certification programmes, sales, marketing and improving visibility, among other related mentorship conferences as activities for the first day.


“On Day 2 participants will go through a comprehensive competence-based and practical training on Rabbit, Mushroom and Snail productions commenced; whilst on Day 3- the training continues, and includes Branding and Advertising, Marketing and Sales, Accounts and Book-keeping, Communication Skills, Entrepreneurship; Processing and Packaging; and management of Cooperatives,” it said.


In a recent joint press release, Dr. Zanetor Agyeman Rawlings, and Agrihouse Foundation, had noted that the initiative would help the hundreds of young Ghanaians acquire skills in rabbit, snail and mushroom farming, processing, as well as marketing.


“This will help them make money to support themselves and their families. It will help reduce unemployment, empower women, and ultimately help reduce poverty in the society,” the release said.


The statement said, “the whole idea is to have the value chain circle in place that will create a market linkage system, and we are very happy that Parbs Meat is partnering us, with the intention of buying off the produce from the beneficiaries of this project.”


In Ghana, about 400,000 youth join the labour force annually (ACET, 2020), with a greater part of that figure not finding jobs.


Source: Ghana News Agency

VRA management commended for making the Authority profitable


Accra, Dec. 14, GNA-Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, the Minister for Energy, has applauded management of the Volta River Authority (VRA) for turning around the fortunes of the firm making it profitable.


“In the time of COVID-19 when businesses were ailing, with some collapsing, or laying off workers, you ended up with your best performance. I commend the proactive adoption of technology in your business process and operations…” he said at an annual stakeholders’ meeting in Accra.


He noted that the Management and the Board had taken the necessary steps to transform the Authority, which was indebted six years ago to one that was making gains of an annual revenue of about 700 million dollars.


Dr Prempeh in a statement, delivered on his behalf, was also full of praise for the staff for demonstrating resilience and excellence leading to the remarkable performance.


The Minister urged the Authority to leverage on its existing relationship to expand the exportation of the excess power to generate more forex revenue for the country while addressing the challenge of excess capacity charges.


Mr Emmanuel Antwi-Darkwa, the Chief Executive Officer of VRA, said the Authority between the years 2012 to 2016, was highly indebted to the tune of 1,320 million Ghana Cedis (GHS).


The VRA, he said, had paid off and had become a resilient, sustainable, and growing multi-business holding company.


On the strategies used to achieve the monumental successes, he explained that attention was given to the building, nurture, and development of its human capital, where the staff were among other things, motivated to work hard towards the achievement of their set targets.


The Authority also digitised its operations to ensure efficiency in both internal and business processes.


Mr Antwi-Darkwa explained that through its strategy, the VRA had improved its operational and project implementation efficiencies, by ensuring development in a sustainable manner, thereby, sustaining its position as the market leader.


He said among VRA’s sustainability plan for the ensuing years, included inculcating private sector mindset in public service delivery, improving operational efficiency through prevention of avoidable plant outages, and increasing cash flows through innovative billing and debt collection.


Other plans include increasing the Company’s renewable footprints to ensure a green economy, improving staff competencies and effectiveness, enhancing strategic alliances and relationships.


He called for the support of all stakeholders to achieve the President’s agenda of a “Ghana beyond Aid,” and the Sustainable Development Goals.


Mr Kofi Tutu Agyare, the Board Chairman of VRA said the Company the achievement was also due to ensuring the adherence to best practice and strict maintenance culture.


“The objective as always, is to guarantee the availability of our generating plants and ensure optimum operation. VRA ended the year strongly, owing to the commitment of the staff of the Thermal Generation SBU, who ensured TTPS-T1 operated fully on combined cycle during the fourth quarter of the year,” he said.


Mr Agyare said during the year under review, the Management kept to its decision to power the Authority’s thermal facilities exclusively on natural gas and in line with that commitment, the Authority maintained a no Light Crude Oilcombustion during the period.


He said a total of 33,606,084 MMBtu of Natural Gas was utilised during the year, representing a decline of 11.53 per cent (4,380,364MMBtu) compared to the 37,986,448.40MMBtu utilised in 2019.


Mr Agyare said two key projects namely the Kpong Generating Station Retrofit Project at Akuse and the 6.5MWp Lawra Solar Power Project, in the Upper West Region, were completed and commissioned.


He stated that work at the 13MW Kaleo Solar Power Project was progressing satisfactorily, and that a key milestone was reached regarding the construction of the Pwalugu Multipurpose Dam Project.


Source: Ghana News Agency

UNDP pledges support to make Ghana investment destination

Accra, Dec 14, GNA – The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has pledged continuous support to Ghana to make the country the most preferred investment destination.


This will be done through the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Investor map, a digital tool that provides market intelligence on investment opportunities in Ghana and its related impact data to identify and increase SDG-aligned actionable investments.


The SDG map is ultimately aimed at ending poverty and inequality.


Mr Sukhrob Khoshmukhamedov, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative, said, “I assure you of UNDP’s continued support towards making Ghana an investment destination of choice and our unwavering commitment to support the SDG Investor Map as a vehicle for strategic development investment.”


He added that the UNDP would also continue to work with government and other partners with a vision to transform food and agriculture to be more resilient, equitable, inclusive, and environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable.


Mr Khoshmukhamedov, was speaking at an SDG investor map breakfast meeting on Tuesday in Accra, on the theme: “identifying opportunities and accelerating investment into agriculture and manufacturing.”


He noted that the map had enormous potential and investment opportunity areas in agriculture and manufacturing sectors that would contribute to the recovery and resilience of the sectors.


Mr Khoshmukhamedov, said, UNDP had been identifying specific investment opportunities at the local levels with six beneficiary Metropolitan, Municipal, District Assemblies (MMDAs).


They are: Kumasi Metropolitan, Ketu South, and Sefwi Wiawso, Jomoro Municipal Assemblies, Sagnarigu and Kassena-Nankana District Assemblies.


Mr Yofi Grant, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) said the map would be an important tool for both domestic and external investors.


He said because “it [the SDG investor map] really gives you all the factors that you need to make an informed decision for investment. It gives you location, the type of industry, product and projected returns if you visit that area.”


A major concern that was raised during the breakfast meeting was the issue of infrastructure, which was noted to be a challenge to both farmers and investors in the agribusiness industry.


Commenting on this, Mr Grant, said he was confident that “if we do it right, agriculture can once again spring back to be a major proportion of our economic growth.”


“The priority areas for government have been infrastructure. That is why we’re trying to put together 12 thousand kilometers of new railway lines and 11 thousand kilometers of roads,” he said.


He said, the government was committed to ensuring that the country moved from farm based to market and to export and that farm produce reached the consumer wherever they may be.


Source: Ghana News Agency

Brittin Industries commissions glass processing factory at Oyarifa


Accra, Dec 14, GNA – Brittin Industries has commissioned a modern glass processing factory at Oyarifa in the Greater Accra Region to manufacture, sell and install high quality glass and façade systems.


The fully-owned Ghanaian glass and façade company produces a wide range of tempered, laminated, insulated, and single pane glass systems, curtain wall systems, interior and exterior door systems, full-window units as well as interior glass partitions for commercial and residential buildings.


It is one of the largest in the Sub-region, which provides cost effective construction solutions using the latest technology, known as Computer Numerical Control (CNC)precise cutting machines to produce products that meet international standards.


The Managing Director of Brittin Industries, Mr Didier Ireke, at the ceremony urged businesses to understand the unique needs of their customers and serve them effectively and efficiently, a press release issued on Tuesday to the Ghana News Agency, stated.


Mr Ireke explained that the Company was embarking on a journey to build a team of professionals to support the development of the next generation of sustainable infrastructure to champion Ghana’s economic growth.


By so doing, the company adhered to international standards that met the needs of both partners and customers, the release said.


“We understand that the needs of each project are unique so we have so we have dedicated staff that will work with you to meet your project specification,” Mr Ireke said.


“As an organisation, we believe in gender equality and access to opportunities. It is, however, not surprising that we currently employ about 40% female staff in an industry that is largely male dominated. This is our way of contributing to achieving the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) five.”


Mr Andrew Kofi Egyapa Mercer, Deputy Energy Minister, charged the company to leverage the opportunity provided by the government to develop products, which met the needs of customers.


“The private sector is the key game changer for achieving government’s industrialization agenda. It is my hope that the management and board will take advantage of this to unlock the opportunities available,” the release said.


Mr Egyapa Mercer Deputy Minister expressed the hope that the opening of the factory would help to address youth unemployment in Ghana.”


The guests were taken on a tour of the factory to learn at first-hand how the company delivers superior glass, accessories and aluminum profiles to customers.


Chiefs and elders of Oyarifa-Teiman, partners of Brittin, policy makers and other stakeholders attended the ceremony.


Source: Ghana News Agency

TICO supports Ghana Police with Checkpoint

Aboadze (W/R), Dec 14, GNA- The Takoradi International Company (TICO/TAQA), a power distribution company in the Shama District of the Western Region, has handed over a fully-furnished Police checkpoint to the Ghana Police Service (GPS).


The checkpoint is expected to enhance the security and safeguard the lives and property of the power distribution companies in the two communities.


At a ceremony to hand over the facility, Mr Ernest Kofi Osafo, General Manager of Tico, said safety and security were paramount and fundamental to the well-being of every individual, hence the decision to support the Police to effectively provide security to the people in the two communities.


He said the increased police presence in the communities would deter people from engaging in criminal activities and create a haven for people to go about their duties without fear.


Mr Osafo encouraged the Police to professionally discharge their duties to create a serene atmosphere where the vulnerable would not be intimidated.


He commended the police for their significant role in maintaining law and order and pledged the company’s commitment to construct a befitting Police Station in the area.


Mr Stephen Asoah, Safety and Security Manager of TICO, emphasized that the security and safety of the people in the power enclave remained important.


In that regard, he said the company would collaborate with the Volta River Authority (VRA) to ensure that the power enclave was free from criminal activities.


DSP Atta Yeboah Ntoree, the Shama District Police Commander, said the checkpoint would create a safe environment for the personnel to embark on their normal duties without fear.


He said security was a shared responsibility that required collaborative efforts from stakeholders.


DSP Yeboah Ntoree said the Police would work in line with best Policing standards and professionally discharge their duties to protect the people and the power distribution companies in the two communities.


Mr Ebenezer Dadzie, the District Chief Executive (DCE) of Shama, underscored the need to protect the hard-earned peaceful coexistence in the power enclave for improved socio-economic activities.


He described the Police checkpoint as apt and one which would give an impetus to the security and safety measures taken by the Assembly to address its security challenges.


Mr Dadzie appealed to the power distribution companies to consider the need to fix street lights along the Inchaban- Aboadze-Abuesi stretch to wean the passengers from unnecessary prey and accidents.


Mr Jacob Brown Yawson, the Plant Manager for Volta River Authority (VRA), spoke about the benefits of the security checkpoint and said it would harmonize the relationship between the companies and the communities.


Mr Isaac Arhin, a representative of the Chief of Aboadze, expressed appreciation to the management of TICO/TAQA for the continuous assistance to the two communities.


Source: Ghana News Agency