COVID-19: Federal Government releases N10Billion for local vaccine production

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The Federal Government has announced the release N10 billion to support domestic vaccine production.

Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, made the disclosure during a briefing by the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 on Monday in Abuja.

He also announced that the first consignment of COVID-19 vaccines would arrive the country in few weeks.

The N10 billion for local vaccine production, he explained, was released by the Ministry of Finance and would be used to explore “options for licensed production in collaboration with recognised institutions.”

On importation of vaccines, he said Nigeria had requested 10 million doses of the injection, which could be supplied from March.

Preparing COVID-19 vaccine, he explained, required that countries determine criteria for prioritisation, develop robust vaccine distribution strategy and identify vaccine administration sites and teams, and that countries develop procurement, supply chain and distribution plan for commodities and devices, as well as a sustainability plan.

“These we are already working on to be ready when the vaccines arrive,” he said.

The minister said Nigeria was exploring options for the acquisition of approved vaccines, adding Nigeria is participating in the African Union initiative called “African Vaccine Availability Task Team”, which reports directly to the African Union Chairman, President Ramaphosa of South Africa, and has secured 270 million doses of various types of vaccines.

He added: “Bearing in mind options suitable for our environment and the available infrastructure, as well as Investment in delivery, we shall engage other FMOH agencies, especially NAFDAC and NCDC, state governments, religious, traditional and community leaders, in plans for vaccines distribution, since their role is critical to the orderly and successful deployment of vaccines. We must be able to reach all those eligible to receive the vaccines.

Ehanire observed that while working to develop indigenous vaccines, Nigeria is exploring options for licensed production in collaboration with recognised institutions.

He said: “While the prospect of a vaccine arriving soon is cheering, the importance of non-pharmaceutical measures remain critical to prevent infections. The ministry will hold a national vaccine conference, as part of our preparations, to mobilise experts, role players, development partners and stakeholders to create a unified and strategic front for the provision and vaccination of Nigerians against COVID 19. The conference will also provide a platform for deliberation on our COVID-19 response strategy, especially at this time of spike in cases.”

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