N10bn COVID-19 grant: NIPRD denies receiving funding for vaccine production

Following the announcement of a N10billion support for local production of COVID-19 vaccine by the Federal Government (FG), the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) said it is yet to receive funding to this effect.

The research institute had last week attributed the slow rate of progress in the local research effort aimed at developing anti-COVID-19 vaccines on poor funding.

NIPRD Director-General of NIPRD, Dr Obi Adigwe, while addressing newsmen had stated that efforts to get funding support to this effect was also futile as organizations who could have funded such were unresponsive.

But on Monday, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire announced the release of N10 billion to support domestic vaccine production.

He said the country was exploring options for licensed production in collaboration with recognized institutions, while also considering an option of local production of the vaccines in the country.

However, when the Senior Special Assistant to the NIPRD DG, Dr Abubakar Danraka was contacted to react on the development, he reiterated the DG’s position on funding constraints.

He instead said: “This question is what should be directed to the Federal Ministry of Health.”

According to him, the institute heard of the release on the media.

On his part, the Director of Press, Ministry of Health, Olujimi Oyetomi said he is not allowed to comment on issues bothering on vaccines but directed this reporter to the minister’s aide special for clarification.

Nigeria hopes to get 42 million COVID-19 vaccines to cover one-fifth of its population through the global COVAX scheme.

The batch of vaccines would come as part of Nigeria’s plan to inoculate 40% of the population this year, with another 30% in 2022.

By the end of January, 100,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are expected to arrive in Nigeria.

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