Vaccines: Nigeria Interested In Technology, Not Manufacturing — Ehanire 

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The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire.
The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire.

The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire has said that the urgency for the country to manufacture its vaccines has reduced, with the focus shifting to having the technology to know how to produce vaccines in the country. 

He made this known during the bi-weekly ministerial press briefing on COVID-19 and other infectious diseases in the country.  

Recall that the Federal Government, through the Ministry of Finance, announced the sum of N10billion for the production of vaccines in Nigeria, to fight the Coronavirus.

Following the announcement of the disbursement of the sum of N10 billion to the Ministry of Health for the development of the COVID-19 vaccine, the joint committee scheduled a meeting with the ministers of finance and health for clarifications on the funds.

On May 11, 2021, Ehanire said that the N10 billion earmarked by the National Assembly for the local production of COVID-19 vaccines was intact while explaining why local manufacturing of the COVID-19 vaccines cannot start in the country at the moment as the world continues to fight vaccines nationalism. 

On April 21, 2022, President Muhammadu Buhari, directed the minister of health to submit a progress report by the end of May 2022 on the indigenous production of vaccines in the country.

Fielding questions during the briefing, the minister said Nigeria was yet to make do with the 39,800,000 doses of vaccines procured by the Federal Government.

“The single-shot J&J vaccine [was provided] through the African Vaccine Acquisition Team (AVAT) of the African Union, a facility provided by AFREXIMBANK. The country has been making use of donated vaccines, “he said

He said that Nigeria has learnt key lessons from the pandemic, including the fact that countries must look inward for medical supplies and other health commodities. 

“So, the urgency to produce your vaccines now is a bit reduced because we have few donations; we have the ones that the government has procured that we are yet to use. The urgency is now to have the technology to know how to produce vaccines.

“So, we have brought together all our experts, including the producers of vaccines and manufacturers to find a way to have a technology in case of any future new outbreak to produce vaccines to join in the search developed and innovation. 

“We’re bringing together all our research capacities or assets to have that knowledge that skill or the technology for indigenous domestic vaccines production in case of any other such attack,” he explained. 

The minister said that the technical working group (TWG) on local vaccine manufacturing would pursue that avenue for research and development because most of the world agreed that anytime there were future outbreaks there can be what they called “disease x” as a disease. 

According to him, what is clear is that there’ll be days of the vaccine. There is also research going on in different countries trying to find the same vaccines and Nigeria want to be part of that research, such as development efforts. For Nigeria to be a part of it, she must have the technology, knowledge and all other requirements. 

Speaking on President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive, he said that the president gave the directive when he led the Nigeria Integrated Biopharmaceuticals Industries Consortium and visited the president to discuss vaccine manufacturing in the country. 

The minister said the FMOH has continued to drive collaboration with investors for vaccines, pharmaceuticals and medical devices in a move towards self-sufficiency, in the country. 

Racheal Abujah
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