By Zayamu Hassan
The Federal Government has disclosed that the Nigeria is ready to begin the manufacture of the 15 per cent of routine vaccines needed in the country.
The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, disclosed this at a media briefing in Abuja, noting that the process has been on the pipeline for a long time.
“There is an initiative of the federal government working with the private sector already existing to produce the so-called routine vaccines.
“Normally vaccines for Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) were already on the pipeline. That one is running on its own and they are to start by producing 15 per cent of routine vaccines.”
Speaking on COVID-19 vaccines, the Minister said: “Nigeria is among those countries that were granted the right to have the technology to produce COVID-19 vaccine which is being handled by Bio-vaccine Limited with support from Federal Ministry of Health.
“Another consortium (group of companies) came to make a presentation to the president about vaccine production and the Federal Ministry of Health engaged that consortium and it is about that consortium that the report to the presidency was due which has been done.
“But generally, the world now has plenty of vaccines of COVID-19 which are being donated to Nigeria.”
The Minister further disclosed that the federal government recently procured over 30 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccines added with the ones that were donated by other countries.
“The Federal Government also ordered for over 30 million doses of the vaccines, but even the vaccines which we ordered which the federal government is paying for were not being used yet because we are using donations from other countries.
“So, the urgency to produce our own COVID-19 vaccine now is a bit reduced because we have donations and we have the ones that the government has procured.”
On what the government is doing to ensure that Nigeria is prepared locally to combat any form of epidemic in the future, the Minister said: “But the urgency to have technology to know how to produce vaccine is what is pressing.
“And so, we are bringing together all our experts including the producers and manufacturers of vaccines to find a way to have the technology in case of any future outbreaks to produce vaccine to join in research and innovation.
“We are bringing together all our research capacities and assets to have that knowledge and that skill and the technology for indigenous domestic vaccine production in case of any other such attack.
“The technical working group needs to pursue that avenue of research and development because the rest of the world agreed that anytime in the future there can be that Disease X, that is the disease that we do not know about.
“It may be like COVID or something else, but what is clear is that there will be need for vaccine.
“There is research going on in many countries trying to find out that vaccine. Nigeria wants to be part of that research and development efforts.
“We must have the assets, the technology and knowledge and all that the country needs to be able to join the rest of the world in finding the answers so that if Nigeria finds the answer first, we can also support the rest of the world in getting access to the vaccines.”