BusinessDay

Vaccines production: FEC approves joint venture with Serum Institute of India

The Federal Executive Council ( FEC) on Wednesday approved a joint venture partnership arrangement between Bio vaccine Nigeria limited and Serum Institute of India for the production of vaccines in Nigeria.

The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire revealed this while briefing State House Journalists after the weekly FEC meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Bio Vaccine Nigeria is a joint venture company in which the federal government has 49% interest, while the private sector has 51% interest.

Under the arrangement approved by the federal government, Ehanire stated that “Bio Vaccine Nigeria will have 15 percent of the market share, which will be used for contract manufacturing of the vaccines as an initial step over the next few years when the plant in Nigeria starts to work.”

He disclosed that this is the first stage in indigenizing vaccine production in Nigeria.

Nigeria is strengthening local production of vaccines, as the support from GAVI to the subsidised country’s vaccines will expire in 2028.

“And by that time, we should be producing our own vaccine domestically. And we are supporting Bio Vaccine Nigeria Limited to be that manufacturer soon in Nigeria,” he said.

“ We are talking first of all about the routine vaccines, the one to call the standard programme on immunization, not COVID-19 vaccine.

“As you know, the government has a joint venture agreement and formed the company called Bio vaccine Nigeria limited, which is to start producing vaccines domestically.

“Now, we are sourcing for international partners, who will join them and give them the technology transfer that they require.”

The Minister revealed that after going to various countries, including South Africa and Indonesia, it finally settled for the Serum Institute of India, which will now be the technical partner to support Nigeria in setting up the vaccine production plant.

The Serium Institute of India is said to be the largest vaccine producer in the world, and also has vaccines that are approved by the World Health Organization.

“So all other countries, including UNICEF, procure also from Serum Institute of India, and in the partnership, Serum Institute of India requires that you must have a certain order.

He disclosed that the vaccines will be purchased by government, adding that “they are supposed to be administered by government through the Primary Health Care Development Agency”

“The Serium Institute of India will now be comfortable enough to come and join Bio vaccine of Nigeria, in building their manufacturing plant here in Nigeria in Ota ”
“The contract for manufacturing that was approved today will be done for Bio vaccine. But before the end of this year, the groundbreaking will start because they have already drawn the plan, the structural plan, everything is already completed, the survey has been done, the approval has been given and then with this partnership now, they will now break the ground and start building right away.

On technology transfer and training of Nigerians, for local production of vaccines , the Minister disclosed that the policy is aimed at bringing new technology and domiciling it with Bio Vaccine Nigeria limited.

“The staff training has already begun in South Korea and then of course, Serium Institute of India will now do the rest. And during the technology transfer of course, there will also be the handing over of knowledge and skills.

The Minister while also speaking on monkeypox, revealed that monkey pox has been in Nigeria for quite a few years as a low grade problem.

“So, of the over 818 or 820 cases we have seen in Nigeria, there have not been more than seven fatalities. And those fatalities are those who had other illnesses and not necessarily those people that caused their demise”.

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