By Joseph Ayinde
The minister of health Osagie Ehanire, stated that N10 billion had been approved by the federal government to support local production of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Speaking at the media briefing of the presidential task force (PTF) on COVID-19, held on Monday in Abuja, the minister said the country is making arrangements to ensure improved access to the vaccine when available.
He explained that the first consignment of vaccine doses will arrive within weeks, and will cover 20 percent of the population, but added that there are plans to increase the figure to cover 50 percent.
“On vaccines, we are exploring all options available for the acquisition of approved vaccines for Nigerians. We are hopeful that the first consignment will arrive the country in some weeks. Apart from the COVAX facility, which is billed to cover vaccination of just 20 percent of our population, we plan to increase our chances of getting enough vaccines to meet the country’s need to cover an additional 50 percent of the population,” he said.
“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 options for 270 million doses of various types of vaccines.
“Bearing in mind options suitable for our environment and our available infrastructure, as well as investment in delivery, Nigeria has written to express interest in 10 million doses of the viral vector vaccine, which could be supplied as from March 2021. This vaccine does not require deep freezers.
“The ministry of finance has released N10 billion to support domestic vaccine production. While we are working to develop our own vaccines, Nigeria is exploring options for licensed production in collaboration with recognised institutions. We are also exploring the option of local production of the vaccines in country and have had discussions with a producer.”