The Nigerian government says it has begun processes to produce the first candidate vaccine for the prevention of COVID-19, which will be ready in the next 18 months.
Project Manager, Nigeria COVID-19 Research Coalition (NCRC), Popoola Ayo, who disclosed this in Abuja, informed that several research is currently ongoing in all the health institutions. The research is being funded by the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TEFFUND) to the tune of N450 million, he said.
“TETFund has put in N450 million to support that process and the ultimate thing is to come up with a candidate vaccine for Covid-19 in the next 18 months,” he said.
He noted that five institutions are involved in the research and they include; National Institute of Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) that is going to be used for vaccine protection, Nigeria Institute of Medical Research (NIMR); National Veterinary Research Institute (NVRI); Usman Danfodio University, Sokoto; and the University of Jos.
The project manager further reiterated that the health sector is in need of more funding for research. According to him, about $500 million is required for research and development in the health sector.
He also pointed out that the African Union (AU) recommends countries to set aside one per cent of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as a contribution for research and development (R&D).
“Our National GDP is $500 billion and one per cent of this is $5 billion. Presently, the highest grant portfolio for research is around $20 million. The health sector is in the requirement of nothing less than $500 million yearly to have concrete research that could be of impact on the economy.
“For the first time in the country, TETFund is capitalising on research and development that has an interface between the government, private sector and academia, and we are actually focusing on the people,” he said.