Nigeria needs a minimum of three years to start massive production of hepatitis, measles, tetanus and other vaccines in the country, a medical expert has stated.
Explaining the rationale behind this, the national President, Guild of Private Medical Laboratory Directors of Nigeria, Elochukwu Adibo, said the country needed to start from infrastructure, work on the framework of validity of equipment, chemicals and getting human resources along with working on time versus achievement of activities.
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“It cannot be less than three years before we get the first vaccine,” he stated.
Adibo said this recently during the flag-off ceremony of the second edition of ISN Medical Laboratory Scientist of the Year Award for the lab experts who have distinguished themselves in the practice of their profession.
“Nigeria would have been able to produce its COVID vaccine earlier if there was an existing portal, protocol, infrastructure and structure,” he noted.
According to him, Nigeria requires commitment from both the private and public sectors to achieve this.
“Key stakeholders need to come on board to initiate various vaccine production platforms.
“All things being equal, in another two to three years, Nigeria will be harnessing vaccines and this will make the country to be an export hub for vaccines and this will translate to massive income for the country.
“With the rate of dollars at the moment, when we export our vaccines, we will make lots of money from it and save billions of naira spent on exporting vaccines through donor funds.
“The billions of naira spent cannot be sustained. Sustainability can only occur in Nigeria when we increase the capacity which is zero at the moment.”
The laboratory expert harped on the need to resuscitate local production as Nigeria’s vaccine laboratories produced the last batch of vaccines in 1991, thereby making Nigeria an import-dependent country since then.
“The government is putting lots of effort now, Nigeria has started from somewhere already, we just have to build on it. We need proper acceleration process of testing and validation which vaccines usually go through,” he said.
In June, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) said Africa is working with the European Union and other partners to help create regional vaccine manufacturing hubs in Nigeria, and three other African countries.