Minister of Health Dr. Osagie Ehanire said on Monday that four pharmaceutical companies from Russia, the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States (U.S.) have announced that their vaccines are effective to protect people from the deadly COVID-19 infection.
The firms are: a Russian group; AstraZeneca, United Kingdom (UK) and two from America – Moderna and Pfizer.
He added that since the world is close to getting effective vaccines to shield the population from the pandemic, the Federal Ministry of Health is taking measures towards vaccine security by setting up an 18-man National COVID-19 Vaccine Task Team.
The minister explained that the task team, which will be inaugurated this week, will have seven terms of reference, including generating strategies for vaccine acquisition, deployment and options for licensed production by Biovaccine Nigeria Ltd.
Speaking during the briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Abuja, Ehanire said: “There are four groups that have declared that they have solutions now, including one Russian group, the UK (AstraZeneca) and two Americans – Moderna and Pfizer. Nigeria is working on studying these vaccines also, but we cannot say we are near the levels of the developed countries with regard to technology and resources.
“Nigeria has a vaccine company called Biovaccine Nigeria Limited – a joint venture between the Federal Government and a private company to carry out research and also producing or licence if they are on the ground.
“N10 billion is in the budget and kept as a reserve, which will be for the development of vaccines. But should it have to be deployed in addition to procurement, we should also be ready for it. The task team we are setting up includes the Ministry of Foreign Affairs because a lot of diplomacies may be involved. There is also the Ministry of Finance, Central Bank of Nigeria, and CACOVID because financial resource mobilisation may be necessary. The N10 billion is safe in the TSA account.”
He added: “The story of vaccines is just unfolding, the tests are still going on and none is being used yet, but some authorities in the USA have announced that within three weeks, they may start using these vaccines with emergency authorisation powers to start using them.”