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Nigeria, World Bank to raise $30m for vaccine plant — Osinbajo



Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said on Monday Nigeria and the World Bank are collaborating to raise $30 million to finance a vaccine plant in the country.

Osinbajo stated this at the International Conference on Health Access and Socio-Economic Development organised by the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) in Abuja.

He said the global trend in health had made it critical for Nigeria to establish its own vaccine production facilities.

The Vice President said: “Nigeria is in talks with the World Bank’s private lending arm and other lenders to raise about $30 million to help finance a vaccine plant in the country.

“Bio-vaccine Nigeria Limited is chaired by Prof. Oyewale Tomori; 49 percent of the company is owned by the Nigerian government with the balance held by May and Baker Nigeria Plc and they have plans to begin the construction of a plant.

“I believe in the first quarter of next year; the plant which is supposed to be located in Ota, Ogun State, will initially, we are told, fill and finish, which I’m also told, means importing the raw materials for the vaccines and then packaging them for distribution.

“Some South African companies are already involved in doing exactly that; I believe Aspen Pharmacare and Belvac Institute operate similar facilities.

“Full manufacturing, we are told, is expected to follow in the coming months or years; I am not entirely certain, when.

“So, it is evident that the way forward is more funding for healthcare and research for innovators to develop solutions in pharmaceuticals and medical consumables.’’

READ ALSO: Northern youth group vows to mobilise 20m votes for Osinbajo in 2023

Osinbajo said with the discussion he had with NIPRD Director-General, Dr. Obi Adigwe, he was inspired by the potential and the kind of support that the pharmaceutical industry and research agencies would require in the country.

According to him, the Federal Government had established the Healthcare Sector Intervention Fund which had disbursed $185 million (N76.9 billion) to finance the acquisition and installation of critical medical care equipment in Nigeria.

He said the fund was also for the expansion of production lines in various pharmaceutical companies across the country.

The Vice President revealed that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is also supporting a number of research and development initiatives in the health sector with the disbursement of N233 billion in grants.

Osinbajo said NIPRD was also making immense contributions in developing a local cure for COVID-19.

He added: “NIPRD has also developed an impressive variety of pharmaceutical products from indigenous resources and both the Niprimune and Niprimune plus both of which I have the pleasure of seeing, have been found to posses reasonable properties that are able to prevent or work against COVID-19.

“Both products, which have been registered by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), are currently undergoing various levels of clinical studies towards approval for production for emergency use.

“The NIPRD Director-General, Dr. Obi Adigwe, has assured that by this time next year, the institute will launch three new products currently under development at its Nanomedicine, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Centres.

“It is this proactive approach that we must take to address the slow pace of vaccine access in Africa and of course, Nigeria.

“Although, we received help from some friendly nations and the COVAX Alliance, less than four percent of our eligible population would have been vaccinated by the end of this year.”

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