RENOWNED virologist and former vice chancellor of the Redeemer’s University Professor Oyewale Tomori has blamed inconsistent government policies and personal interest as being among the reasons why Nigeria is unable to produce human vaccines.
With the Covid-19 pandemic ravaging the globe, Nigeria is one nation that is providing health officials with serious headaches as she one of the world’s largest nations that is not involved in the manufacture of the vaccine. With supplies limited, it is impossible to provide Nigeria with 400m doses of the coronavirus vaccine required to give everyone of her 200m people two shots.
So far, Nigeria has received 4m doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine through the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Assess Facility (Covax) and India has augmented this by donating a further 100,000 doses of its Covishield coronavirus vaccine. Funded by the World Health Organisation (WHO), Covax was set-up to divide about 2bn doses of vaccines across 92 low-and middle-income countries.
By the end of May or in early June, Nigeria will receive an additional consignment of 29.8m doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. However, for the nation to be fully vaccinated, local manufacturing needs to take place and so far, none of the global pharmaceutical companies have outsourced production to a local Nigerian subsidiary or company.
Professor Tomori noted that the obstacles placed in the way of doing business and getting approvals needed by potential partners are major challenges facing drug production in Nigeria. He added that it is a shame that Nigeria is not presently ready for the production of human vaccines, although he added that if the country maintains the current momentum, this should change in a few years to come.
“The challenges are many and multifaceted, from inconsistent government policies that make it impossible to set and meet long-term goals and objectives, to the overriding of national interests by personal interests by people who would rather that Nigeria continued to import vaccines through translucent procurement processes. There are also the time bomb obstacles placed in the way of doing business in Nigeria, whereby getting approvals needed by potential partners becomes a forever obstacle and steeplechase race.
“You often have to deal with people who you assume have the same motives as you do, to see your country make progress. You’ll, however, discover later, as you interact with them, that while they loudly proclaim and carry the banner and flag of accountability and transparency, all they are gunning for is to milk the country dry and use you as the conduit pipe to drain national resources into their filthy and leaking pockets,” Professor added.
On the way forward, Professor Tomori urged individuals who love the country not to relent but continue the fight for the development of the country. He urged more Nigerians to come our more boldly with united voices against the ills currently ravaging society.