Nigerian state governors want the federal government to expedite actions on local production of Covid-19 vaccine instead of relying on foreign pharmaceutical firms.
The governors are also not comfortable with the lack of clarity on when the vaccines will arrive Nigeria, and told President Muhammadu Buhari to accelerate the delivery.
The Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum, Kayode Fayemi, disclosed this Friday after a meeting he had with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Nigeria is expecting the delivery of 100,000 Covid-19 vaccines from COVAX, the global initiative by the World Health Organisation, aimed at ensuring rapid and equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines for its 190 participating countries.
All COVAX’s 190 participating and eligible economies will be able to access doses to protect vulnerable groups in the first half of 2021, contingent upon regulatory approvals and countries’ readiness for delivery.
Fayemi, who is the governor of Ekiti State, said he seized the opportunity of the meeting with the President to review a number of issues that are of interest to him and his fellow state governors and listed the issues to include security, economy, vaccines management and the general outlook for 2021.
The governor said they discussed the need to include religious leaders and celebrities among those that will be vaccinated in public to boost people’s confidence.
He said it is the view of the state governors that the nation needs to ramp up manufacturing of vaccines locally.
Fayemi said: “For us as governors, the number one priority in vaccine management relates to public health and risk communication. I commended the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 for at least, wanting to use Mr. President and the Vice President as their publicity vehicles for reassuring those who may have their doubts about vaccines use that this is no threat to them.
“You know there are cultural and religious concerns in various parts and at the state level, we are reviewing that with all of our colleagues.
“But the good thing is Mr. President has agreed with me that he would convey to the PTF the necessity of using other influencers, maybe the chief Imams, the Bishops, top musicians, our sports personalities.
“The more of such people are seen taking the vaccines, the more the likelihood of resistance will break down in our various localities. So, we discussed that.
“Of course, procurement of vaccines was also discussed. Our view is that ultimately, we really need to ramp up manufacturing of vaccines locally. It is okay that COVAX, which Nigeria is part of, is going to be delivering some vaccines to us. As we understand, the first 100,000 and then 43 million and ultimately 165 million doses.
“But there is nothing as good as having the ability to manufacture our own vaccines locally. We understand that there is a partnership with May & Baker, which is important for the federal government to really accelerate the process so that we can produce the vaccines here in Nigeria and not be dependent on what is coming from other parts.”
“Those of us at the receiving end in the states know that this is an issue we also need to ramp up our own preparedness, in terms of getting our states ready for vaccines storage particularly, the freezers and cold chains that will be required for that process. We need to get ourselves ready at the state level. The federal government can procure but we will receive and administer in our various states and there is a lot of work to be done in that respect,” the governor said.