The N10 billion earmarked in 2020 by the Federal Government for local production of vaccines, is still intact, Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, has said.
The minister gave the assurance on Tuesday in Abuja, during the Ministerial bi-weekly update meeting on COVID-19 response.
Ehanire said that the country had found partners to import the technology needed to produce the vaccines.
“We are as prepared as we can be, we are also pursuing capacity to produce vaccine biotech.
“Visitors from the Serum Institute of India are going to be technical partners of Bio-Vaccine Nigeria Limited.
“Nigeria is a 49 per cent shareholder in a company called Bio-Vaccine Nigeria Limited, and the bio-vaccine is a revival of the former vaccine plants that the Federal Government used to have.
“The private sector was invited to join and form a special purpose vehicle – a company called Bio-Vaccine. This was conceived before COVID-19.
“Now the joint venture was stalled because of the outbreak – when there was a lockdown and when nothing could move,” he said.
According to the minister, there have been a lot of delays which stalled the company’s take-off.
“With the outbreak of COVID-19, all countries were looking forward to vaccines, including Nigeria. Therefore, the aspiration to produce vaccines has not been fulfilled.
“We are working on it and I have spoken with one of the members of the board of bio-vaccine.
“We are working on getting that technology to both produce routine vaccines and also COVID-19 vaccines under license and importation of the technology and partnership for it,” Ehanire said.
The minister added that local vaccine production was a priority of the President Muhammadu Buhari led government.
“This is one reason the country has been engaging partners of interest in actualising this very important project,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Director, of Disease Control and Immunisation, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr Bassey Okposen, emphasised the importance of COVID-19 vaccination across the country.
Okposen said that over 70 million COVID-19 vaccines have so far been administered to Nigerians.
“As of Sept. 12, in 36 states of the Federation and the FCT, about 33. 8 million of total eligible persons targeted for COVID-19 vaccination are fully vaccinated.
“12.9 million of total eligible persons targeted for COVID-19 vaccination are partially vaccinated,” he said.
The director, however, said millions of children in the country still miss out on basic childhood vaccines every year and urged parents to get their children vaccinated.
“Getting your child vaccinated is the best way to give every child a healthy start to life and protect against preventable diseases from birth to old age.”NAN