From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Ministry of Finance has released N10 billion to support domestic vaccine production to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
Minister of Health Dr Osagie Ehanire made the disclosure at the briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 briefing Monday.
‘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 recognised institutions, we are also exploring the option of local production of the vaccines in the country,’ he said.
The minister urged Nigerians to ignore claims by some persons in Nigeria to have 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 regulation and certification by the National Agency for Food Drugs and Administration Control (NAFDAC). I advise against fake vaccines, as there is no vaccine approved for use in the country and the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), is the only authorised vaccine administrator in Nigeria.’
Osagie said the number of new COVID-19 cases has continued to rise in Nigeria, such that 10,300 confirmed cases were reported from just 50,750 samples tested in one week, translating to 20% positivity rate.
‘It means one out of every five persons tested in the last one week turned out positive compared to the previous week which recorded a positivity rate of 14%.
‘Nigeria’s total number of confirmed cases is 110,387 of a total of 1,172,234 samples tested, with a cumulative positivity rate of 9.4%. 1,444 cases were recorded in the past 24 hours, with sadly 77 deaths in the past week and total fatality of 1,435. It is instructive of the 2nd wave that all cases recorded so far this January is more than 20% of all confirmed cases in Nigeria, more than the whole of December, barely halfway through the month.
‘There is no question that we are deeply 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: infection mitigation, therapeutics and vaccines.’
He reiterated that reducing infection rate for COVID-19 remains the easiest, cheapest objective of the government, whose main effort is to ensure social mobilisation for testing, strengthening surveillance activities for early detection, active contact tracing, isolation and treatment; however, implementation of critical non-pharmaceutical measures requires much cooperation of the public. This includes much more adherence to wearing masks, social distancing, use of sanitisers, etc, than we are seeing today. Of special concern are 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 urged to work out guidelines for participating in clinical studies for ivermectin.’