The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, has announced the disbursement of N10billion by the Ministry of Finance; for the production of domestic vaccines in the country.
While speaking in Abuja at the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 National briefing on Monday, Dr Ehanire stated that the Ministry of Finance had released the funds to provide support for the production of vaccines within the country; in a bid to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.
“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 the country,” he stated.
The Health Minister also encouraged citizens to dismiss the possession of COVID-19 vaccines – as claimed by certain people in the country.
“I advise all citizens to disregard these claims, as they are criminal. There are procedures for vaccine acquisition and use, which include appropriate regulations and certification by National Agency for Food and Drug and Administration and Control (NAFDAC).
“I advise against fake vaccines, as there is no one approved for use in the country. The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) is the only authorised vaccine administrator in Nigeria,” he explained.
He also highlighted the surge in COVID-19 cases, adding that the 50,750 samples tested within a week had returned 10,300 positive cases.
“It means one out of every five persons tested in the last one week turned out positive, compared with the previous week which recorded a positivity rate of 14 percent.
“Nigeria’s total number of confirmed cases is 110,387 out of a total of 1,172,234 samples tested, with a cumulative positivity rate of 9.4 percent. 1,444 cases were recorded in the past 24 hours, with sadly 77 deaths in the past week and total fatality of 1,435.
“It is instructive of the second wave that all cases recorded so far this January is more than 20 percent of all confirmed cases in Nigeria, more than the whole of December, barely halfway through the month.
“There is no doubting the fact that we are deeply into the second wave of the pandemic which requires that PTF and FMoH review our strategies to respond to the challenge.
“The federal ministry of health has outlined three approaches to confront the pandemic. These are: infection mitigation, therapeutics and vaccines,” he said.
Dr Ehanire also touched on the use of critical non-pharmaceutical measures which will require public cooperation.
“This includes much more adherence to wearing masks, social distancing, use of sanitiser, etc. than we are seeing today. Of special concern are the so-called “super spreader activities” that involve congregational settings, which must be reduced, restricted or prohibited in the interest of the common good.
“With regards to therapeutics, we must strive to reduce mortality from this disease by ensuring adequate stock of supplies and strengthening our case management capacity.
“In this regard, the ministry of health is working to expand oxygen availability across the country to address shortages, which have been a challenge globally, and also to review the value of various pharmaceuticals and protocols proposed for COVID-19 treatment.
“Clinicians are also urged to work out guidelines for participating in clinical studies,” he stated.