Felix Ikem, Nsukka
A Nigerian vaccinologist, Dr. Simon Agwale has commended Central Bank of Nigeria for pledging to provide funds for researches towards the development of local drugs and vaccines for coronavirus.
Godwin Emefiele, the CBN Governor had on Tuesday during the unveiling of the THISDAY Dome testing, tracing, and treatment centre in Abuja disclosed that it is developing a framework to provide financial support in order to encourage greater research and development of Nigeria drugs and vaccines that would help prevent the spread of the virus.
Agwale, who is the director of Innovative Biotech, Keffi, Nasarawa State made the commendation Friday, during a chat with Saturday Sun in Nsukka, stressed that such funding would make Nigeria’s health sector proactive to emerging tropic health challenges.
According to him, “this is our yearning for decades. Nigeria is blessed with scientists; they need an enabling environment. We have the resources, and if properly exploited, Nigeria will be among global health destinations.”
He said absence of funding caused Nigerian health institutions’ inability to respond to Covid-19 research demands, and warned that relying on foreigners for solutions would make Nigeria’s health sector permanently dependent.
“In view of the recent publication in Science by Corey et al, there is need to manufacture and distribute enough safe and effective vaccine to immunize a large number of individuals for protection from the threat of morbidity and mortality from the coronavirus 2.
“The global need for vaccine and the wide-geographic diversity of the pandemic requires many effective vaccine approaches.
“They opined that the ability to manufacture billions of doses of vaccine requires the vaccine-manufacturing capacity of the entire world, although new technologies and factories can be developed to sustain production, there is an immediate need to fund the necessary biomanufacturing infrastructure, including the fill/finish steps that provide vialed vaccine products for distribution,” he said.
While advocating channelling private Covid-19 donations to health researches, Agwale said, “Government’s interventions should be towards palliatives, provision of personal protective equipment and sensitisation. It may kill the goal if private donations are given to government for these same purposes. There should be a special trust fund for it, while government regulates. The focus should shift to researches and vaccine manufacturing capabilities.”
Agwale, who is also a Board member of the African Vaccine Manufacturing Initiative, and at the forefront of shaping the future direction of vaccine development worldwide, also advocated siting Covid-19 isolation centres at tertiary health institutions for maximum efficiency, adding that, “The strategic roles being played by the Molecular Testing Centre at Yaba is because of its location, and how it was repositioned during the outbreak of Ebola, as well as Lagos State government’s excellent maintenance culture.
“If this principle is not adopted, these emerging isolation centres would be abandoned after the coronavirus pandemic. Also, rapid test kits should be deployed at local government levels to curtail this ravaging virus.”