Osagie Ehanire, minister of health, says Nigeria is seeking sponsors to raise $1.5 million for clinical trials for the COVID-19 vaccine which will be produced in the country.
Speaking with journalists at the presidential villa in Abuja on Thursday, Ehanire said there is a need to boost vaccine production within Nigeria, so that the country isn’t at the mercy of foreign manufacturers.
Before vaccines are deployed, researches — referred to as clinical trials — involving humans are done on such medical interventions as part of efforts to determine the safety of the products.
According to him, a few vaccine candidates are being considered, and what is left is to raise funds for clinical trials.
“There are at least two, perhaps even three Nigerian laboratories that have developed what you call vaccine candidates. A vaccine candidate means that you have already been able to get the antigen; you have produced something that will work,” he said.
“One of our researchers here, who has produced such a candidate, I asked him, ‘how much do you think you’ll need to go through these clinical trials — phase one, phase two, phase three?’ He said at least $1.5 million. That’s a lot. Do we have that now to test a vaccine?
“We say we’ll look for sources where we can get the sponsors, because the sponsorship is what you need. What some people do is that they invest in it and then once you produce the vaccine and it’s successful, they buy it and that means you are done.
“If it turns out not to have worked, your money is gone. We want to support our own vaccine and do the necessary thing to make sure they come out, but we are looking for the funds to support and also the necessary technical and whatever other backing that is required to get them to a level where it will be cheaper for us. We can be able to export also.
“We are looking at that, and that’s in fact our preference. We know that those who are producing vaccines now, we are at their mercy and I have said before that even if you have money now, you may not even get your vaccine.”