Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The federal government said it has set aside N10 billion in the 2021 budget for the purpose of procurement and evaluation of COVID-19 Vaccines when they are ready.
It has also said that a task team has been constituted to help in mobilising resources and advising government on how best to utilise such resources to effectively deal with the pandemic.
The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire made the disclosures while speaking at the media briefing by the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 pandemic in Abuja yesterday.
He said: “Nigeria had floated a vaccine company known as, Bio-Vaccine Nigeria Limited. It is a joint venture between the federal government and a private company to carry out not only research but also to look at the options of producing Vaccines in licence.
“Federal government has earmarked N10 billion in the 2021 national budget to serve as a reserve fund, which will be for the development of vaccines and could also be deployed for procurement of Vaccines”.
Ehanire said that the federal government has set up a task team made up of the ministries of Foreign Affairs, Finance, Central Bank of Nigeria and CACOVID to help government in mobilising resources needed for providing vaccines.
The minister further said that some authorities overseeing the development of the vaccines have given indications that within three weeks, some of the vaccines might be ready for use under emergency powers.
According to Ehanire, “Now that vaccines are known to be close at hand, the Federal Ministry of Health is taking measures towards vaccine security, for which an 18-man National COVID-19 Vaccine Task Team with seven terms of Reference will be inaugurated this week. The task team will include generating strategies for acquisition, deployment and options for licensed production by Biovaccine Nigeria Ltd. Our options with WHO/GAVI led Covax facility remain our first line of engagement”.