The Federal Government has announced the release of N10 billion to support COVID-19 domestic vaccine production.
The nation’s Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire disclosed this during a Presidential Task Force (PTF) CCOVID-19 briefing on Monday in Abuja.
On importation of vaccines, he said Nigeria had requested 10 million doses of the injection, and the first consignment could be supplied from March.
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 recognized institutions.
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 urged Nigerians to ignore claims by some people that they had COVID-19 vaccines for sale in the country.
“I advise all citizens to disregard these claims, as they are criminal. There are procedures for vaccine acquisition and use, including appropriate regulations and certification by the National Agency for Food and Drug and Administration and Control (NAFDAC).
“I advise against fake vaccines, as there is no one approved for use in the country. The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) is the only authorised vaccine administrator in Nigeria,” he said.
Ehanire added that “While the prospect of a vaccine arriving soon is cheering, the importance of non-pharmaceutical measures remains critical to preventing infections. As part of our preparations, the ministry will hold a national vaccine conference to mobilize 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.”
Earlier in his remark, the Chairman of PTF and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha noted that South Africa and Nigeria had continued to report highest daily count in Africa. At the same time, South Africa, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Algeria and Kenya account for 76 per cent of all cases in the region.
He observed that Nigeria has moved up to the third position in the highest cumulative caseload but remains second for new cases and fifth highest in cumulative deaths on the WHO African region.
According to him, testing has become more significant in the national response. State governments should enable their EOCs to step up sample collection and maximise the capacities of the PCR laboratories already in their states.