Nigeria has joined the list of countries developing a covid-19 vaccine. This was announced by the Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha announced Monday March 23, 2021 at the National covid 19 briefing by the Presidential Task Force.
According to him, there are currently two covid-19 vaccine candidates developed by Nigerian scientists awaiting clinical trials and certification. The Minister of Health Dr. Osagie Ehanire had announced on January 18, 2021 the approval of N10Billion to support local production of covid 19 vaccines.
According to Boss Mustapha, this is a welcome development that will open a new vista in scientific breakthrough and would boost the morale and image of the medical industry in the country.
He called on all relevant agencies to provide support and enabling environment for the smooth conduct of the remaining protocols for the certification of the vaccines with a view to motivating and encouraging other researchers.
The vaccine candidates are optimized for the African population. The vaccine has gone through preclinical trails, awaiting human trials. There have been concerns that vaccines developed in the West are developed mostly with data from non African populations, which may result in low vaccine efficy for Africans.
This development comes amidst a rising wave of vaccine nationalism globally, whereby western countries are considering restricting export of vaccines overseas in order to meet domestic demand.
As at Monday March 22, 2021, about 162,000 covid 19 cases have been recorded in the country and 2,031 people have died from the virus, while over 148,500 people have recovered from the disease.
This breakthrough by local Nigerian scientist renews hopes for improved vaccine access in Africa. So far, more than 100,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine has been administered so far from the 4 million doses (of the expected 84 million) that arrived the country earlier in the month through the COVAX initiative. MTN Nigeria has also donated 300,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.