‘Nigeria’s Vaccine production plant ready in 2024’
Indonesia’s Ambassador to Nigeria, Usra Harahap, yesterday, held a crucial discussion with top executives of Biovaccines Nigeria Limited, a Joint Venture (JV) between the Federal Government and May & Baker Nigeria Plc in Lagos, on the status of their existing partnership and the modality of scaling up the country’s vaccine production capability.
The diplomat’s visit to the JV enterprise, it was disclosed, was in connection with the working relationship between Indonesia’s Biofarma and Biovaccines Nigeria, a partnership that dates back to 2019.
According to Chief Operating Officer of Biovaccines, Everest Okeakpu, Biofarma is expected to provide the necessary technical support for Nigeria to grow local capability in vaccine production.
“This is part of the gradual build-up to vaccine manufacturing in Nigeria. The ambassador alluded to the fact that we were supposed to do the groundbreaking of the greenfield production facility in 2019. We explained that the plan was shifted because of the extension of the Gavi support for the Nigeria vaccine till 2028.
“The country was supposed to graduate from the support in 2021. The entire business plan of Biovaccines was thrown into the box. We had to go back to the government to get the details of the extension to develop a new business plan, which we are implementing. With the new plan, we will do groundbreaking in Q4 this year. But that will also depend on the approval we are expecting from the Ministry of Health,” he said.
Nigeria had approved 15 per cent of the country’s vaccine procurement to Biovaccines to give it a platform to woo technology and funding partners. The agreement was signed by the Minister of Health in 2020 but is still awaiting the endorsement of the Federal Executive Council (FEC).
Okeakpu said if the company secures the necessary approval and commences the construction this year, the new facility would be ready in 2024 to enable Nigeria to commence local production of vaccines.
Harahap said Indonesia “is willing to work with Nigeria to develop the needed local capacity” to achieve vaccine sovereignty in no distant time. He noted that the Nigeria-Indonesia relationship has come a long, adding that the two countries have a lot to gain from each other.
The ambassador said Indonesia was also in discussion with the Ministry of Health about some other important areas of collaboration, highlighting the need for the two countries to achieve a balance of trade.
Chairman of Biovaccines, Prof. Oyewole Tomori, said the partnership with Indonesia was an important journey in bridging the gap in the vaccination space. He said the country would get the range of vaccines it needs from Biofarma while Nigeria continues to build production capacity.
Tomori described the meeting as work in progress, saying another meeting would be held at the Indonesia Embassy sometime in the future.
According to him, the strategic partnership was important for bridging the supply gap and building local production capacity.
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