COVID-19; Nigerian scientists produce two vaccines

• Boss Mustapha

•Fed Govt gets 300,000 doses of AstraZeneca from MTN •Over 3million vulnerable Nigerians need vaccination

Two Nigerian-made anti-COVID-19 vaccines are currently awaiting clinical trials and eventual certification for use, the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 announced yesterday.

Chairman of the PTF and Secretary to the Government of the Federation SGF, Mr. Boss Mustapha, who announced this during the task force’s media briefing in Abuja, also announced the donation of 300,000 doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines to Nigeria by telecommunications giant, MTN.

He described the discovery of the potential local vaccines as a welcomed development, which would encourage more of such scientific ventures in the country, and charged all agencies involved in actualising the process to lend all required aids.

“The disclosure that Nigerian scientists have produced at least two local COVID-19 vaccines, which are awaiting clinical trials and certification is significant. This is a welcome development that will open a new vista in scientific breakthrough and will boost the morale and image of the medical industry in the country.

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“I call on all relevant agencies to provide the required support and enabling environment for smooth conduct of the remaining protocols for the certification of these vaccines with a view to encouraging and motivating other researchers,” he said.

On the donation of 300,000 doses of vaccines by MTN, Mustapha said: “Yesterday, Sunday, 21st March, 2021, the PTF received 300,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines from MTN Nigeria. This is acknowledged with thanks as we encourage other partners to contribute towards the fight against COVID-19.”

He noted that one year ago, exactly 21 March, 2020, a total lockdown was declared by the government in some parts of the country due to Coronavirus pandemic that hit the nation.

“In the past one year, the socio-economic impact on us cannot be underestimated. Many people lost their livelihood and many people lost loved ones. May their souls find rest with their maker,” he said.

The PTF Chairman recalled that in the past few weeks, there were discussions on the KLM and Emirates Airlines services in Nigeria.

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“Today, I will like to inform you that KLM has commenced full operations in and out of Nigeria since 15 March, 2021 while operations of the Emirates in and out of the country have been suspended with exemption of cargo and humanitarian flights,” he said.

But, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Farouq yesterday claimed over three million vulnerable Nigerians are in need of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The minister said it will be working with the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), based on available data from National Social Register and other agencies to administer the vaccines to the over three million people.

She described the vulnerable as including the elderly, Persons Living with Disabilities (PLWDs), Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and the vulnerable poor.

Farouq, who spoke yesterday at the weekly briefing by members of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, said a proper sensitisation exercise will be conducted prior to administration of the vaccine.

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Overall, the Nigerian government said it aims to vaccinate approximately 109 million people against the COVID-19 virus over a period of two years.  (The Nation)

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