Vaccine production in Nigeria may soon be a reality with the inauguration of the board of a private local vaccine company, Biovaccines Nigeria Limited, in Abuja.
Biovaccines is a private-public partnership between the Federal Government and May & Baker Nigeria Plc, a pharmaceutical manufacturing company.
The board, inaugurated by Minister of Health Prof. Isaac Adewole, is headed by Prof Oyewole Tomori, a virologist and former vice chancellor of Redeemers University.
Its members are Dr. Faisal Shuaib Executive Director/CEO, National Primary Health Care Development Agency; Mr Lawal, Director, Food & Drugs, Federal Ministry of Health, Nnamdi Okafor, Managing Director/CEO , May & Baker Nigeria Plc, Dr. Edugie Abebe, a former Permanent Secretary and Director of May & Baker and Mr. Ayodeji Aboderin, Director of Finance, May & Baker.
The new managing director of Biovaccines is expected to join the board soon.
At the event, Okafor said the board of Biovaccines would prepare the ground for the eventual production of vaccines in Nigeria. Said he: “The business plan of Biovaccines is ready. One of the first tasks of the Board will be to approve the plan for immediate kick off of operations.”
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) at its sitting last May 31 ratified a joint venture agreement between the Federal Government and May & Baker for the formation of Biovaccines Nigeria to serve as a special purpose vehicle for producing vaccines.
Okafor said since then, so much had happened. ‘’We have successfully engaged all stakeholder groups to align their plans and activities to the task of providing Nigeria a sustainable programme of immunisation through local production of vaccines. I can say that Nigerians are now clearly joining forces on this healthcare initiative and the way to the future is very clear and bright. We have equally engaged international organisations, such as GAVI, MSF, PATH, Melinda and Bill Gate Foundation among others for collaboration” .
Okafor promised that Biovaccines will strive to commence local production soon. He said the strategy is to shorten the gestation period to achieve the shortest possible time line for production.
‘’Ideally, a greenfield production will require five to eight years for the first batch of products. Vaccine production is a high-tech, complex and painstaking process and we are determined to achieve international standards of production,” he added.
Present at the inauguration were Prof Christiana Moji Adeyey, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) Director-General, Dr. Wondi Alemu, Representative and Head of Mission of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Nigeria.