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Vaccine manufacturers to rely on solar power

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By Usman Oladimeji

Manufacturers of vaccines will leverage solar-powered generators as backup.

The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, has asserted that local vaccine manufacturers will have to leverage solar-powered generators as a backup plan, pending the improvement on the issue of epileptic power supply, which remains a major concern not just to the citizen but also to the Federal Government and companies under various industries. Dr. Ehanire disclosed this during the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) ministerial forum in Abuja, following when the World Health Organization (WHO) selected Nigeria as one of the six African countries to receive the Technology needed to produce the Vaccines.

Dr. Ehanire was reacting to President Muhammadu Buhari’s position during a visit to South Korea in October, where he expressed the country’s readiness to become a global hub for the Manufacturing and distribution of vaccines and urged for quick commencement of mRNA vaccines local production. Also, while addressing the World Bio Summit 2022, Buhari reiterated on the plan as he pledged commitment to the global response to known or emerging pathogens, including the global vaccine assurance ecosystem and equitable access for all.

Nigeria has also begun to learn how to produce the mRNA vaccine.

Furthermore, the minister lauded the president Muhammed Buhari’s administration on its significant effort to ensure a stable electric Power Supply in the country as he emphasized on the crucial importance of Electricity power supplies in the production of vaccines. He asserts that the country still has the Mambila and Kashimbila dams, which, once activated together with the various gas plant at work, would generate more electricity than the voltage currently in circulation across the country.

He added that the government is also in collaboration with Bio Vaccine Nigeria Limited, where it owns 49 percent equity, to start producing both routine and other vaccines in the country. Nigeria has also begun to learn how to produce the mRNA vaccine, the main vaccine used for COVID-19. According to him, Nigerian representatives are currently present at the ongoing African training for mRNA technology in South Korea to amass knowledge about the technology.

The country collaborates with Veterinary Research Institute.

Additionally, he reveals that the country would partner with the Serum Institute of India to commence local manufacturing of vaccines used in the country’s immunization programs, enabling Nigerian representatives to acquire the knowledge. This is focused on routine vaccines, the ones for the standard program on immunization, and is different from the COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine is similar to the mRNA technology, with a difference in the refinement process and requires deep knowledge and capacity, which the country is focused on amassing.

The health minister also disclosed that the government was working with the National Veterinary Research Institute (NVRI), Vom, Plateau, a producer of animal vaccines since 1924. Also, in recent times, Indonesia’s Ambassador to Nigeria, Usra Harahap, held a crucial discussion with top executives of Bio Vaccines Nigeria Limited, a Joint-Venture (JV) between the Federal Government and May & Baker Nigeria Plc in Lagos, which is viewed as part of the gradual build-up and modality to scale up vaccine manufacturing in Nigeria.

Biofarma is expected to provide Nigeria necessary technical support.

It was disclosed that the diplomat’s visit to the JV enterprise was in connection with the working relationship between Indonesia’s Biofarma and Bio Vaccines Nigeria, a partnership that dates back to 2019. According to the Chief Operating Officer of Bio Vaccines, Everest Okeakpu, Biofarma is expected to provide the necessary technical support for Nigeria to grow local capability in vaccine production. Nigeria had approved 15 percent of the country’s vaccine procurement to Bio Vaccines to give it a platform to attract technology and funding partners. The Minister of Health signed the agreement in 2020 and is still awaiting the Federal Executive Council (FEC) endorsement.


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