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Osinbajo urges innovation in COVID-19 vaccine manufacture, in-vitro diagnostics

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Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo. PHOTO: Twitter/Nigeriagov<br />

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has emphasised the need for innovation and action in the manufacture of vaccines and in-vitro diagnostics in Nigeria and the African continent.

Speaking at the National Scientific Conference of the Guild of Medical Laboratory Directors (GMLD), yesterday, in Abuja, Osinbajo said vaccine-manufacturing capacity in Nigeria would greatly impact national response to COVID-19 and other diseases. This, he said, could not be left to government alone.

He noted that though the pandemic has led to harsh disruptions to life globally, it has also provided opportunities for the building of health sector infrastructure. He said the expansion of laboratories for COVID-19 testing nationwide, from three at the start of the pandemic to over 140, besides private laboratories, has been a significant contribution to preserving the health of Nigerians.

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The Vice President said the inclusion of the private sector was initially considered a risk. But with the proactive leadership of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and support from the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and private medical laboratories, the risk paid off.

He said: “Despite predictions of the worst happening in Africa, there are so many lessons being learned from our response globally. These lessons range from our proactivity before the confirmation of the first COVID-19 case to a digital tool developed by Nigerians with German partners, known as SORMAS. This tool is the reason we can get daily COVID-19 case updates.

“Diagnostics have continued to play a vital role in our ability to detect COVID-19 cases and has enabled us to mount an effective response to the outbreak. The efficient and smooth operations of medical laboratories in the country are dependent on the leadership, planning and commitment of you all, here, today.”

Osinbajo, who was represented by Director General of NCDC, Chikwe Ihekweazu, stressed that while Nigeria is learning from its successes and challenges in the COVID-19 response, the country is strategising on ways for better preparedness against other emerging diseases.

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Earlier, President of the Guild, Prince Elochukwu Adibo, called for the harnessing of resources from private and government sectors to improve Nigeria’s healthcare services, especially in human vaccines production and manufacture of in-vitro diagnostics.

He expressed hope that lessons learnt from the COVID-19 response would turn the searchlight of government, international and local support organisations on the private sector, which has been grossly excluded in policies, infrastructure and funding.

“This exclusion, which informs our choice of this year’s conference theme, is regrettable and unfortunate, as it leaves the country missing out on rich medical data domiciled in this sector, which ought to be used for health sector improvement,” he said.

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