Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye (Abuja) and Chinenye Anuforo
The Centtal Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Tuesday, said it is developing a framework to release grant and long term facilities to researchers, science institutions and biotechnology firms to develop local vaccines to manage the coronavirus disease.
Governor of CBN, Godwin Emefiele, disclosed this Tuesday at the commissioning of Thisday Dome COVID-19 Testing, Tracing and Treatment Centre, in Abuja.
The 300-bed facility with a 54 gene laboratory, is a private sector driven initiative donated by a consortium of like-minded partners powered by the Sahara Energy Group and the ThisDay Media and Technology Group. Other key players include the CA-COVID, the AFC, CCECC, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and the Central Bank of Nigeria.
The centre was commissioned by Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on response to the Coronavirus pandemic, (PTF) COVID-19, Boss Mustapha.
Emefiele said in order to encourage greater research and development of drugs and vaccines that would help prevent the spread of the virus in the country, “the CBN is developing a framework which would grant and long term facilities to researchers, science institutions and biotechnology firms to develop the Nigerian vaccine.”
He challenged Nigerian scientists at home and in the Diaspora to go back to their laboratories and develop a local vaccine for the virus.
“Once validated by the health authorities, the CBN will step in and do the needful for the sake of over 200 million Nigerians now confronted by COVID-19.”
“Our inability to accurately predict the extent to which the coronavirus could spread, and how long it would last, requires that we build sufficient capacity within our health system in order to contain the spread of the virus, state by state, city by city and preserve the lives of vulnerable Nigerians.
“This requires that we all come together to support the ‘work of the Presidential Task Force in it’s determination to save lives and stem the pandemic.”
Emefiele noted that Nigeria’s ability to restore the growth of the economy is dependent on how the country addresses the public health crisis brought on by COVID-19, adding that” It is in realisation of this fact that the CBN recently launched a N100 billion healthcare intervention fund. Practitioners in the Pharmaceutical and health care sectors will be able to access finance at single digit rate through this fund.
“Our objective is to improve the capacity of our health system to address emerging public health challenges.” He commended the Nigerian private sector practioners who came together under the Coalition against COVID-19 (CA -COVID) to support the government, by raising funds to procure needed isolation centres, medical equipment, etc. “So far, the CA-COVlD-19 has raised up to N27 billion to fund these initiatives. These donations are being used to build well equipped isolation centres across the 36 states of the federation.
“The THISDAY Dome Testing, Tracing and Treatment Centre being launched today represents a part of the support being provided by the CACOVID alliance. These measures will result in the addition of close to 4,000 hospital beds across the country and will serve as a significant boost towards our efforts at containing the spread of COVlD-19.