The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, has said the Federal Government will support the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), to meet international standards in research into the development of a vaccine for the Coronavirus.
Mr Ehanire disclosed this at the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 joint briefing on Thursday in Abuja.
He said the government would support NAFDAC to reach international maturity level and encourage researchers to work towards the development of vaccines for the COVID-19.
Ehanire further added that Nigeria participated in a World Health Organisation (WHO), African Regional Conference, held virtually and chaired by the Minister of Health of the Congo.
He noted that the conference was centred on Coronavirus, noting that the conversations were on vaccines and implementing the African Region sickle cell strategy.
“We shall sustain our interest in developments around COVID-19 and seek opportunities to exchange ideas with countries and organisations investing in new knowledge.
“NAFDAC is also trying to reach the maturity level to assure that the product and processes that come out of research work in Nigeria towards the development of vaccine candidates are realisable and that they meet the required standard.
“The task lies not only with the Ministry of Health, but is a shared responsibility with the populace.
“Our safest, easiest and cheapest option of achieving a balance between saving livelihood and saving lives remains adherence to non-pharmaceutical measures, as we have preached so many times. With these measures, we can balance and uphold our indices, even as we reopen our economy.”
The minister of health, however, urged Nigerians not to relax in observing the COVID-19 preventive measures, saying that the virus would still remain for the foreseeable future, till there was a vaccine available for it.
With the imperative to reopen the economy, relax local and international air travel to support restoration of livelihoods, the minister noted that the experience in other countries was that COVID-19 infection rates have gone up and in some cases, dramatically.
Mr Ehanire, therefore, said Nigeria must strive not to lose its attention to preserve lives or lose the gains it has made over the months.
He also said that training and retraining on infection prevention and control was ongoing in all health facilities as well as ensuring availability of PPE as an investment, to continue the reduction in health worker infections.
Mr Ehanire called on health workers to ensure judicious and prudent use of PPE materials, while observing full Information Prevention Control (IPC) measures.
The minister recalled that Nigeria was, on August 25, declared poliovirus free. He, therefore, said all material and human resource assets from polio eradication would be deployed to surveillance and fighting other disease outbreaks, including the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.