The Nigeria Governors’ Forum says Nigeria is speeding up efforts at coming out with a locally manufactured vaccine to tackle the spread of COVID-19 in the country.
The NGF chairman and Governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi, disclosed this on Friday, after meeting with the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), in Aso Rock Villa, Abuja.
Fayemi said Buhari agreed that beyond shopping for and acquiring vaccines for Nigerians, the ultimate target is to produce the vaccine locally.
He noted that already, there is a partnership with a manufacturer to that effect.
Fayemi said, “The federal government is already part of the WHO-GAVI Alliance-COVAX partnership and from what we understand from the PTF, vaccines will come from that alliance.
“Some of it is from Pfizer in the first instance, and then maybe, from other various producers of the vaccines later.
“But there is no clarity as yet to when these vaccines will arrive in Nigeria.
“So, one of the issues raised with Mr. President is the need to accelerate the delivery of vaccines to the country, so that it will be available to our people.
“Those of us at the receiving end in the states know that this is an issue, and we also need to ramp up our own preparedness, in terms of getting our states ready for vaccine storage, particularly the freezers and cold chains that will be required for that process.
The NGF’s Chairman harped on the need to get ready at the state level, adding, “The federal government can procure, but we will receive and administer in our various states and there is a lot of work to be done in that respect.
“Of course, procurement of vaccines we also discussed.
“Our view is that ultimately, we really need to ramp up manufacturing of vaccines locally.
“It’s okay that COVAX is going to be delivering some vaccines to us.
“As we understand, there are the first 100,000, then 43 million and ultimately 165 million doses.
“But, there is nothing as good as having the ability to manufacture our own vaccines locally.
“We understand that there is a partnership with May & Baker, which is important for the federal government to really accelerate, so that we can produce the vaccines here in Nigeria and not be dependent on what is coming from other parts.”
Fayemi commended the PTF for allaying the fears expressed by Nigerians towards the COVID-19 vaccine by conveying a message of safety with President Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo’s willingness to be vaccinated.
“For us as governors, the number one priority in vaccine management relates to public health and risk communication,” he said.
“I commended the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 for at least wanting to use Mr. President and the Vice President as their publicity vehicles for reassuring those who may have their doubts about vaccines that this is no threat to them.
“You know there are cultural and religious concerns in various parts and we at the state level are reviewing that with all of our colleagues.
“The good thing is that Mr. President has agreed with me that he would convey to the PTF the necessity of using other influencers, maybe the chief imams, bishops, top musicians and sports personalities.
“The more such people are seen taking the vaccines, the more the likelihood of resistance will break down in our various localities. So, we discussed that.”
The NGF chairman assured Nigerians state governors are also ready to be vaccinated
“We too will like to demonstrate to our citizens that we believe that vaccines would work.
“Don’t forget, we have a lot of experience on this.
“Governors forum managed the polio vaccines administration in the country and we have garnered a lot of experience.
“We have worked with the Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Federal Ministry of Health and will be happy to work with NCDC and PTF.
“So, we would take a lead as well in our various states,” he said.
On if the states would contribute towards procuring the COVID-19 vaccines, the Ekiti State governor said details of the financial management are something that would be of interest to all the states.
“But we also know that there are a range of approaches to take, the health approach is there.
“For us at the Governors Forum, it is not just a health issue, it is also a security issue and an economic issue as well.
“We would work in partnership. We are involved with the PTF. We have a representation at the PTF and we will work with them generally on them.”
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