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Buhari directs minister to submit progress report on local vaccines production in May

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PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has directed the Minister of Health Osagie Ehanire to submit a progress report on the indigenous production of vaccines next month.

He gave the order while receiving a delegation from the Nigeria Integrated Biopharmaceuticals Industries Consortium (NIBI) led by Vilarugel Cuyas, Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of Fredlab, in Abuja on Wednesday.

The president said the order was to help the country fully prepare for a transition from the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) support for the supply of vaccines by 2028.


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GAVI has been responsible for supplying vaccines to Nigeria and other low-income economies. 

In a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity Femi Adesina, the president said the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the nation’s economy and health systems was a major reason his administration was committed to local vaccines production.

The president said the country had learnt vital lessons from the pandemic, prompting it to look inward for sustenance in food and medical supplies.

He noted that many nations with comparative advantages in being centres of bio-pharmaceutical productions adopted a “me-first” attitude towards securing their citizens when the pandemic ravaged countries. 

According to him, the attitude placed developing nations, particularly Africa, at a severe disadvantage.

“Having witnessed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our health system, our communal life and national economy, from which we are yet to recover fully, we are reminded that the wealth of a nation is dependent on the health and wellbeing of its citizens.

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“At the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, Nigeria was quick to respond to what seemed an existential threat by strengthening the health system’s capacity to handle the pandemic – an initiative that continues till today in collaboration with the state government, private sector, and international partners.

“Key lessons of the pandemic are that nations can be brought to their knees by disease outbreaks that cripple national and international trade. Countries must be able to look inwards for sustenance in food and medical supplies. The benefit of this administration’s early investment in agriculture came to light during this global turbulence.”

Buhari lauded the NIBI consortium of European biotechnology companies Merck, Unizima, Rommelag, and Fredlab, for collaborating with the Nigerian start-up PIA BioPharma to establish a world-class Bio-Pharma Industrial Complex for the manufacture of vaccines and essential therapeutics in Nigeria.

While stressing that the nation considered food and medicine sufficiency as national security issues, he said technical and financial investments and partnerships were priorities in the nation’s policy planning and gave the assurance that Nigeria had the market and a pool of expert scientists to draw upon, from within and outside the country.

As part of efforts to make Africa a vaccine production hub, the World Health Organization shortlisted Nigeria and five other African nations in February to receive the needed support for producing mRNA vaccines.

Nigeria and other African nations receive virtually all the vaccines they administer to their citizens to tackle COVID-19 and other vaccine-preventable diseases from donors outside the continent.

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