The president, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (Retd.), on Thursday assured Germany-based mRNA vaccine manufacturer BioNTech of Nigeria’s willingness to cooperate on local production of the vaccines.
Buhari also said he looks forward to a commitment from the company to expand cooperation to achieve Nigeria’s goal of developing research, development and manufacturing capabilities.
According to a statement signed by his special adviser for media and publicity, Femi Adesina, Buhari stated this during a meeting with the executive chairman of KENUP Foundation and representative of the CEO of BioNTech, the holder of the mRNA vaccine patent, in Africa, Mr. Holm Keller, at the State House, Abuja.
The statement is titled ‘mRNA vaccine production: President Buhari welcomes exploratory interactions between Nigerian scientists, BioNTech.’
Buhari, who said his regime is “investing significantly in health, education, in research and development,” pledged to encourage discovery and collaboration in joint ventures, such as with a private pharmaceutical company to begin routine vaccine production in the country. .
According to him, ”We are impressed by the many possibilities offered by mRNA technology and are therefore looking to partner with well-meaning organizations, including yours, to build a strong bilateral partnership with your company and your affiliates. , as science moves closer to understanding the possibilities surrounding successful mRNA technology.
“We believe mRNA technology will also help solve other public health challenges, especially those inherent in our tropical environment.
“As you engage in exploratory interactions with our biomedical scientists and officials from the Department of Health, I look forward to a commitment to expand collaboration to achieve our goal of developing research and development and manufacturing capabilities.” .”
Buhari spoke of the huge inequalities in access to COVID-19 vaccines at the height of the pandemic and said Nigeria and many middle-income countries now see the need for global decentralization and diversification of production capacity for items critical to public health.
He also highlighted various investment opportunities and potential in the country, urging the Foundation and other potential investors to pay “special attention” to Africa’s most populous country.
”KENUP Foundation will find a suitable research and development ecosystem in Nigeria, in terms of human resource expertise and endemic, deadly disease challenges that require research to help end with new vaccines.
“Our renowned scientific community has the ability to engage with you in a meaningful way in all types of research and to add value to your collaborative effort.
“Nigeria has a long tradition of vaccine production and microbiological research labs, both in private and public facilities, as well as human and veterinary vaccine research, which were established more than 80 years ago.
“You will find Biosafety Level 3 labs in Nigeria and ongoing initiatives with trusted partners to develop Level 4 capability as well. We are investing significantly in health, education, research and development and encourage discovery and partnership in joint ventures, such as with a private pharmaceutical company, to begin routine vaccine production in the country,” Buhari said.
Buhari, who described Nigeria as the preferred destination for ECOWAS citizens seeking markets, added that Biovaccines Nigeria Limited, a public-private partnership company, and other private companies are in various stages of acquiring capacities for local vaccine production. located.
Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, said Buhari is “passionate for public health security, that’s why you’re hosting this team,” he added to explore opportunities for collaboration in the production of new vaccines.
Keller described his organization as a public benefit foundation committed to vaccine equality through country-appropriate manufacturing schedules.
“We are working on malaria, tuberculosis, HIV, monkeypox and other vaccines to be produced in Africa,” he said.
Keller added that there was also a plan to find a personalized African treatment for cancer, available only to the wealthiest of the wealthy in some parts of the world.