The Buhari regime has expressed Nigeria’s readiness to become a global hub for manufacturing and distribution of vaccines.
The federal government says that local vaccine manufacturers will have to rely on generators as back-up, pending when the electricity situation in the country will improve.
Speaking during an interview in Abuja, the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, said “as far as vaccine is concerned, manufacturers will have to rely on backup power generators.”
Mr Ehanire was reacting to president Muhammadu Buhari’s position during his visit to South Korea in October, where the president expressed Nigeria’s readiness to become a global hub for the manufacturing and distribution of vaccines.
Explaining that the government had done a lot in trying to manage the electricity situation in the country, the minister emphasized that electricity is critical to vaccine production.
President Muhammadu Buhari has done a lot of work in trying to get the electricity situation right.
There are many layers of problems, like the generation of electricity which is not sufficient.
But we have the Mambila and Kashimbila dams, which once activated and the various gas plants are working, would generate more electricity than what we have now.”
At the October meeting in South Korea, the president also called for the speedy take-off of local production of mRNA vaccines.
Addressing the World Bio Summit 2022 too, Mr. Buhari again pledged commitment to the global response to known or emerging pathogens, including the global vaccine assurance ecosystem and equitable access for all.
These were after the World Health Organisation (WHO) selected Nigeria as one of six African countries to receive the technology needed to produce the vaccines.
The minister added that the government was also working with Bio Vaccine Nigeria Limited, where it owns 49 percent equity to start producing both routine and other vaccines in the country.
Mr. Ehanire also said, “we start learning how to produce the mRNA vaccine, which is the main vaccine used for COVID-19.”
According to him, the African training for mRNA technology is going on presently in South Korea, and there are Nigerian representatives there to acquire the technology.
He announced that the country would partner with the Serum Institute of India to start local manufacturing of vaccines used in the country’s immunization programs.
He added that “we hope to start manufacturing some of the vaccines with the Serum Institute of India and transfer the technology and skills to our people.
We are talking of routine vaccines, the ones for the standard program on immunization, not the COVID-19 vaccine,” he said.
The health minister also disclosed that the government was working with the National Veterinary Research Institute (NVRI), Vom, Plateau, which has been producing animal vaccines since 1924.
The vaccine with the mRNA technology is the same, just that the refinement is different.
But there is a lot of knowledge and capacity there, which we are also looking at borrowing and getting the experience from that area to human vaccines,” he said.
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