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Why we can’t produce COVID-19 vaccines in Nigeria ─Minister

*The Federal Government attributes the country’s inability research and produce COVID-19 vaccines to numerous years of inadequate investments in the health sector of the economy

*NIPRD states poor funding is stalling local research on COVID-19 vaccines

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

As some countries intensify efforts at researching, manufacturing and distributing vaccines for immunisation against the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), the Federal Government of Nigeria has lamented that the country’s healthcare infrastructure is greatly strained as the country is now at a critical level in its hospital capacity.

Dr. Olorunnimbe Mamora, Honourable Minister of State for Health, who disclosed this on a Channels TV programme monitored in Lagos, explained the government’s its inability to produce COVID-19 vaccines in the country.

The Minister attributed this inability do so to several years of inadequate investments in the health sector of the economy.

Mamora said contrary to insinuations among many that the disease kills mostly the big people in the society, said the poor also die of COVID-19.

While expressing worry over the attitude of most Nigerians to the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, he stressed that it is not true that only the wealthy were dying as a result of the infection.

He stated: “I am worried about the attitude of our people generally in terms of non-compliance, particularly with respect to non-pharmaceutical interventions.

“If you go out there, you still see a lot of people who are not bothered in terms of their attitude of not wanting to use the face mask or when it is used, it is inappropriately worn.

“You still see people in large gatherings hosting parties as if nothing is happening. A few states are putting in place enforcement measures.

He, however, noted that “the rising figures daily are of huge concern and the deaths that we are recording on daily basis are also of concern.

“Some people seem to think it is the big people that are dying but that is not the case. Yes, it is the big people that you report and the tendency is that it is the death of the big people that will attract attention more.

“But he who feels it knows it; people are dying.’’

In a related development, the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD), Abuja, has attributed the apparent slow rate of progress in the local research effort aimed at developing COVID-19 vaccines to poor funding.

National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development, Abuja, FCT

Dr. Obi Peter Adigwe, Director-General and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NIPRD, at a media briefing Monday, January 11, 2021, in Abuja, FCT, lamented that lack of adequate finding is robbing the agency of opportunity to showcase the abundant capacity of the array of professionals at the Institute.

The Director-General of NIPRD, however, disclosed that as the country finalises plans to purchase vaccines for the treatment of the pandemic, the Institute has urged the Federal Government to exercise caution and weigh all options before accepting any of the vaccines.

According to him, none of the organisations or philanthropists in the country he approached for funding assistance responded.

Adigwe stated: “We are proposing Niprimune capsule with Andrographis Paniculata ingredient for the treatment of COVID-19. We projected it for COVID-19 but it needs to pass through those processes before it would be approved.

“We (NIPRD) were the first to discover that this particular process has effect on the immune system and since it has effect on the immune system, we ran it through the artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities we had, and realised that this would be good for COVID-19 since it affects people whose immune system are compromised.

“We have done all the pre-clinical tests that show us that this will be very good, and we now need to move to the clinical stage which is expensive, and this is what we need funding for, but nobody is coming forward for assistance.”

Researchers at NIPRD had to use machine learning and artificial intelligence capacity to identify that Niprimune may have activities in the management of COVID-19.

“During that time, almost a year ago, we have come on mass media, including television, to appeal to philanthropists and development partners to support NIPRD with the funds that will enable us undertake the remaining scientific activities to help us bring this product to the market for COVID-19.

He noted that “it will shock you to learn that a few days ago, the authorities in Thailand approved Andrographics Maniculatal, and also approved a tea based on Hydrographics for the treatment of COVID-19.

“In the meantime, NIPRD, even if we are one of the first in the world to come up with the hypothesis that could help in the treatment of COVID-19, the relevant foundations, philanthropists, and funding agencies have still not supported us to the level where we can finish the research to enable us bring this product to the fore.”

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