A vaccinologist and virologist, Dr Simon Agwale, Tuesday, said that the local vaccine manufacturing initiative which his company, Innovative Biotech Limited, is constructing in Abuja, in partnership with Merck in Germany, will boost Nigeria’s capacity in combating emerging global diseases.
Our correspondent gathered that Agwale’s Innovative Biotech Limited, based in Keffi, Nasarawa State and the US, last week, signed a deal with the German biotech firm for local production of vaccines in Nigeria.
Agwale, while speaking on the prospects of the deal, said, “The end-to-end vaccine development and manufacturing capacity that will be built will enable Nigeria to handle the current pandemic, and future epidemics/pandemics.
“The facility will also be used to produce vaccines for the national programmes on immunization; create an attractive platform for global vaccine companies to localize production and drive distribution and market share growth across the region.
The initiative will support the response to disease outbreaks and scale up the deployment of experts in the Nigeria, and also train scientists in the country on vaccine development and other vaccine related activities. This strategy will bring the needed knowledge based economy to the country.”
He added that the project would strengthen the supply and distribution channels and cold chain systems in Nigeria and some other African countries.
On how soon the production would commence, Agwale said, “The factory is modular and is being built in Germany and will be shipped to Nigeria within 18 months or thereabouts.
“But the Covid-19 vaccine work is ongoing in the US with partners. The initial production will be done here until our factory is up and running in Nigeria. We target a second generation vaccine with more broadly and durable immunity. We urge Nigerians to get vaccinated against Covid-19.
“Efforts of the Federal Ministry of Health to make vaccines available to Nigerians are commendable.”
He urged the federal government to purchase at least 20 million doses of ‘our Covid-19 VLP vaccine in advance to demonstrate its support for local vaccine manufacturing as it’s done in other climes’.