By Onyebuchi Ezigbo
The federal government yesterday said it has established a vaccine company that will help in the procurement and possibly manufacturing of vaccines for the treatment of COVID-19 in the country.
Making the disclosure yesterday while speaking at a media briefing by Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 in Abuja, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, said Nigeria is ready to grab the opportunity to collaborate with any country that shows genuine promise of developing reliable vaccine for COVID-19.
He said: “We are in conversation with Russia, and our strategy is to look at countries that have vaccines that proved to be reliable, and then seek ways of collaborating with them, obtain vaccines from them or manufacture them under licence where possible.
“The federal government has a vaccine company that is just beginning to work on projects known as Bio-vaccine Company Limited, which it has a share in.”
The minister disclosed that the company is being positioned to serve as a vehicle for further engagement with countries and other entities in sourcing vaccine for the treatment of COVID-19.
With regard to the engagement the federal government had with the Russian envoy on possible collaboration to get COVID-19 vaccine being developed by that country, Ehanire said both sides are continuing discussion over the issue.
He, however, said it is not true that both countries entered into any memorandum of understanding (MoU), adding that Nigeria requested to know about the vaccine being developed by Russian research centre and how far they have gone.
According to him, the Russian ambassador gave explanatory note on what they are doing and also referred Nigerian officials to the website of their research centre for further engagement.
Ehanire added that Nigerian scientists and their Russian counterparts were still following up on the discussion, and that a report would be submitted to the ministry of health soon.
The minister, who stated that the federal government is working hard to reduce fatalities from COVID-19, urged anyone with underlying illnesses or within the age bracket that are identified with risk factors to always report for treatment on time.
He said there are no reported cases of shortage of bed spaces from any of the states at the moment.
Ehanire also said in order to improve the chances of survival, the Federal Ministry of Health will be distributing oxygen concentrators and ventilators to various health institutions, “so that they will be able to provide oxygen therapy to persons with respiratory distress, till they are referred to treatment centres.”