Nigeria lacks capacity to produce COVID-19 vaccines

A pharmaceutical company, Pfizer has stated that Nigeria lacks the technical capacity for the development and production of COVID-19 vaccines.

This was stated by the Pfizer Country Manager Nigeria and Cluster Lead West Africa for Pfizer, Mr Olayinka Subair, during a courtesy visit to The PUNCH Headquarters in Magboro, Ogun State, on Thursday.

Subair based his assertion on the fact that the COVID-19 development is a long and technical process with prohibitive cost implications.

He said, “Vaccine development takes, on average, about 12 years. From discovery to experiments and trials, COVID-19 was an exceptional one as it was a global pandemic that needed a quick solution. At Pfizer, for example, most of the processes were done in parallel. Normally, the processes are meant to be done in sequence.

“Because we had already synthesised the vaccine already, we just scaled up from there. Whether Nigeria will be able to do a vaccine for a new disease, it will be very difficult. There are conventional diseases that their vaccines are just generic, like polio, measles, and others.

“But the technology transfer for a disease like COVID-19 that is mutating fast – and there are still so many studies going on around the virus – will take a lot of time.

“We do not have the technical competence or the capacity to develop a COVID-19 vaccine locally yet. For generic diseases like polio or measles, we can take up the end-stage manufacturing for them, but COVID-19 is still largely out of our reach for now.”

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