Why Nigeria can’t produce COVID-19 vaccines

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The Federal Government has said Nigeria chose to import COVID-19 vaccines because it cannot produce its own.

The Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib, gave the explanation on Monday in Abuja at the joint national briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19.

According to him, the process of producing a vaccine requires a massive investment that has not been done in the country for many decades.

“There are questions around why Nigeria is not producing COVID-19 vaccines. I want to put on record that the process of producing a vaccine is very complex and complicated. It requires massive investment that has not been done for many decades,” Faisal said.

READ: COVID-19: Nigeria may impose another lockdown

He said that the country had commenced producing yellow fever vaccines in the 90s, a process, he said, suffered a setback due to decision to adopt more advanced technologies at the time.

He said, “In the 1960s we use to make yellow fever vaccines in this country. In the 90s, we decided to change analogue ways of making yellow fever vaccines to more recent technologies.

“However, that transfer of technology never happened and that is why we did not continue to make vaccines.”

He, however, said there is still hope for Africa’s most populous country to start producing its own vaccines.

“There are genuine ongoing efforts by the federal government to restart the process of vaccines production. This will take a long process.

“It takes about 10-15 years to start producing vaccines, but the journey of a thousand mile begins with one step,” Shuaib said.

Meanwhile the Director General of the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRID), Dr Obi Adigwe has lamented that the agency is not getting the requisite funding for research and production of pharmaceutical products for COVID-19 and other diseases.

Briefing newsmen in Abuja, he said the agency had identified an active ingredient in its product NIPRIMMUNE that could be used in the treatment and management of COVID-19.

He said the agency wrote letters to at least 30 development partners , Nigerian philanthropists and foundations, and telecommunication companies for support on the research but that it was only an organization in Burkina Faso that has promised to help take the product to the next level.

He said researchers at the agency felt the pain of the lack of support when the same product was approved by the government of Thailand a few days ago for COVID-19 treatment.