By Deji Elumoye and Udora Orizu
President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, yesterday called for concerted efforts by the government and the parliament to find resources for Nigerian scientists to collaborate with international agencies to develop COVID-19 vaccine.
Lawan made the call at the public presentation of a research work on legislative responses to the COVID-19, in Abuja.
He said it would take some time for the National Assembly and the government to provide what would be called adequate health facilities across the country, and stressed the need for the country to consider vaccine production, which is becoming a necessity for almost every country.
“I listened to a Nigeria scientist who is based in the US yesterday and he said it would require only one year for a Nigerian project to get its own vaccine. “And the vaccine is not supposed to be for Nigerians only and that is why we need international collaboration,’’ he said
Lawan also warned that Nigeria would be able to get 70 per cent of its citizens vaccinated, as the USA and EU are trying to ensure that no vaccines left its shores until it was able to vaccinate its citizens enough to provide immunity.
He said: ‘’India that produces quite a lot of vaccines with over one billion population is also controlling and stopping exports. Where does that leave us? “Nigeria has the capacity in terms of the human resources to some extent, even though we have lost most of our good ones to the developed world. But some of them are very patriotic.
‘’It is inevitable. Otherwise, Nigeria may not achieve the immunity in the next four or five years with our over 200 million population. And this is not a fact based on any scientific research. I don’t want to be misquoted. I am assuming that if it would take the US up to probably the end of this year to achieve 70 to 75 per cent of vaccination for those that are within the age bracket, some developed countries may be looking at next year.
‘’With over 200 million, see far we have only about four million. I don’t know how we can get 70 per cent of our people vaccinated and that will translate into about 150 million or even more to vaccinate them in the next two or three years. So, we need to work hard and provide the legislative intervention in terms of resources and environment for our scientists to work.’’
On his part, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, said the report would contribute to the body of knowledge on legislative responses in dealing with emergencies such as the COVID 19 and other pandemics that might emerge in the future.