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₦10 billion has been made available by the Ministry of Finance has to support domestic vaccine production aimed at tackling the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, made the disclosure at the Presidential Task Force (PTF) COVID-19 briefing on Monday in Abuja.
Ehanire said: ‘The Ministry of Finance has released N10 billion to support domestic vaccine production.
‘While we are working to develop our own vaccines, Nigeria is exploring options for licensed production, in collaboration with recognized institutions. We are also exploring the option of local production of the vaccines in the country.’
He urged Nigerians to ignore claims by some people that they had COVID-19 vaccines for sale in the country.
‘I advise all citizens to disregard these claims, as they are criminal. There are procedures for vaccine acquisition and use, which include appropriate regulations and certification by the National Agency for Food and Drug and Administration and Control (NAFDAC).
‘I advise against fake vaccines, as there is no one approved for use in the country. The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) is the only authorized vaccine administrator in Nigeria,‘ he said.
Ehanire stated that the number of new COVID-19 cases had continued to rise in the country, such that 10,300 confirmed cases were reported from just 50,750 samples tested in one week, translating into a 20 percent positivity rate.
‘It means one out of every five persons tested in the last one week turned out positive, compared with the previous week which recorded a positivity rate of 14 percent.
‘Nigeria’s total number of confirmed cases is 110,387 out of a total of 1,172,234 samples tested, with a cumulative positivity rate of 9.4 percent. 1,444 cases were recorded in the past 24 hours, with sadly 77 deaths in the past week and a total fatality of 1,435.
‘It is instructive of the second wave that all cases recorded so far this January is more than 20 percent of all confirmed cases in Nigeria, more than the whole of December, barely halfway through the month.
‘There is no doubting the fact that we are deep into the second wave of the pandemic which requires that PTF and FMoH review our strategies to respond to the challenge.
‘The federal ministry of health has outlined three approaches to confront the pandemic. These are infection mitigation, therapeutics, and vaccines,‘ he said.
Ehanire reiterated that reducing the infection rate for COVID-19 remained the easiest and cheapest objective of the government.
According to him, the government’s main effort is to ensure social mobilization for testing, strengthening surveillance activities for early detection, active contact tracing, isolation, and treatment.
He, however, added that the implementation of critical non-pharmaceutical measures required the cooperation of the public.
‘This includes much more adherence to wearing masks, social distancing, use of sanitizer, etc. than we are seeing today. Of special concern are the so-called “super spreader activities” that involve congregational settings, which must be reduced, restricted or prohibited in the interest of the common good.
‘With regards to therapeutics, we must strive to reduce mortality from this disease by ensuring adequate stock of supplies and strengthening our case management capacity.
‘In this regard, the ministry of health is working to expand oxygen availability across the country to address shortages, which have been a challenge globally, and also to review the value of various pharmaceuticals and protocols proposed for COVID-19 treatment.
‘Clinicians are also urged to work out guidelines for participating in clinical studies,‘ the minister said.
AFRICA TODAY NEWS, NEW YORK