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Nigeria must produce Covid-19 vaccines – Lawan

PRESIDENT of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has said there is no justification for Nigeria not to have a homegrown Covid-19 vaccine.

Lawan, who said developing Covid-19 vaccine locally is a must for Nigeria, noted that the country must create the enabling environment and allocate resources towards that end.

Lawan warned that failure to produce the vaccines in Nigeria, herd immunity may not be achieved in the next five years.

The Senate President made the call at the presentation of a report by the Young Parliamentarians Forum of the 9th National Assembly and supported by the Westminster Foundation for Democracy in Abuja on Wednesday.

The report, titled, ‘Legislative Responses to COVID-19 in Nigeria,’ was a study of the effect and responses to coronavirus pandemic by Nigeria’s legislature and lessons learnt.

Lawan said, “Today, the US is trying to ensure that no vaccines leave its shores until it is able to vaccinate its citizens enough to provide herd immunity. The European Union is doing the same thing. India that produces quite a lot of vaccines with over 1 billion population is also controlling and stopping exports. Where does that leave us?

“Nigeria has the capacity in terms of the human resources to some extent, even though we have lost most of our good ones to the developed world. But some of them are very patriotic. They still want us to have our own vaccine developed, and this means we have to find resources for setting up the environment for our scientists to collaborate with international agencies as well as citizens who are now either holding dual citizenship in other countries or are simply our citizens who have gone for greener pastures.

“For us to have our own vaccines, it is a must; it is a necessity; it is inevitable, otherwise, Nigeria may not achieve the herd immunity in the next four or five years with our over 200 million population. And this is not a fact based on any scientific research. I don’t want to be misquoted. I am assuming that if it would take the US up to probably the end of this year to achieve 70 to 75 per cent of vaccination for those that are within the age bracket, some developed countries may be looking at next year.

“With over 200 million, so far we have only vaccinated about four million. I don’t know how we can get 70 per cent of our people vaccinated and that will translate into about 150 million or even more, to vaccinate them in the next two or three years. So we need to work hard and provide the legislative intervention in terms of resources and environment for our scientists to work.”

The Senate President added, “I listened to a Nigeria scientist who is based in the US yesterday and he said it would require only one year for a Nigerian project to get its own vaccine. And the vaccine is not supposed to be for Nigerians only and that is why we need international collaboration. It would a vaccine that can be easily used by other countries, even though when we are able to achieve that, we would also target our population first like all other countries are doing.”

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