The governor of Central Bank (CBN) Godwin Emefiele on Tuesday challenged Nigerian Scientists at home and abroad to go back to their laboratories and develop Nigerian homegrown vaccines for the treatment of COVID-19.
The CBN governor said the apex bank has launched a N100 billion healthcare intervention fund to support Nigerian scientists to develop Nigerian homegrown vaccines.
Emefiele made the revelation while speaking at the commissioning of a 300-bed Isolation Centre at Thisday Dome, Abuja, donated by Thisday Media and Technology Group in collaboration with Sahara Foundation to the Federal Government and the Federal Capital Territory Administration.
The Centre contains COVID-19 testing, tracing and treatment centre.
He said: “I wish to acknowledge, however, that our ability to restore our economy is dependent on how we address the public health crises brought on by COVID-19. It is in the realisation of this fact that the CBN recently launched the N100 billion healthcare intervention fund.
“Practitioners in the pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors will be able to access finance at a single-digit interest rate through this fund. Our objective is to improve the capacity of our healthcare system to address emerging public healthcare challenges.
“Furthermore, in order to encourage greater research and development in Nigeria of drugs and vaccines that would help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Central Bank of Nigeria is developing a framework under which grants and long term loan facilities will be provided to researchers, science institutions and biotechnology firms to develop Nigerian homegrown vaccines.
“Needless to say, if we wait for developed foreign countries to develop their vaccines, we will be the last in the queue to receive curative remedies for our teaming populations. The CBN today challenges Nigerian scientists at home and abroad to go back to their laboratories and develop Nigerian homegrown vaccines, once validated by the Nigerian health authorities, the CBN will step in and do the needful for the sake of our 200 million Nigerians now confronted by COVID-19.
“Our inability to accurately predict the extent to which COVID-19 could spread and how long it would last requires that we build sufficient capacity within our healthcare system in order to contain the spread of this COVID-19 both in all states and our vicinity and preserve the lives of vulnerable Nigerians.
“This requires that we all come together to support the work of the Presidential Task Force in its determination to save lives and stem the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is in this regard that I will like to commend the Nigerian private sectors who have come together either under the auspices of Thisday Media Group or under the coalition of the CACOVID 2019 to support the government by raising funds to procure needed isolations centres, medical equipment etc.
“So far, the CACOVID have raised over N27 billion to fund this initiative, these donations are used to build well-equipped isolation centres across the 36 states of the Federation, but Thisday Dome testing, tracing and treatment centres being launched today, represents a part of the support being provided by the CACOVID alliance.
“This measures will result in the addition of close to 4,000 hospital bed across the country and will serve as a significant boost towards our effort at containing the spread of COVID-19.”
The N100 billion, according to him is different from the N50 billion intervention fund for small and medium enterprises, those affected by COVID-19; and the N1 trillion facility for firms operating in the Agriculture and manufacturing sectors.
He said: “In a bit to cushion the effect of COVID-19 and the Nigerian economy, the CBN has implemented several initiatives, such as the N50 billion intervention funds for small and medium enterprises, those affected by COVID-19; in addition to the N1 trillion facility for firms operating in the Agriculture and manufacturing sectors.
“We are also working with the financial institutions to enable the continuous flow of loans and credit to viable business while putting in place positions such as moratoriums and restructuring of existing loans under our intervention that are provided to the business.
“These measures are intended to cushion the effect of the slowdown in economic activity and our businesses.”