The plan by the Federal Government to produce COVID-19 vaccine locally appears to be threatened by the $1.5 million cost of clinical trial for the vaccine.
This is because the government was not sure of how to source the funds for the project,
The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said this on Thursday when he featured at the presidential ministerial briefing organized by the Presidential Communication Team in Abuja.
According to him, a Nigerian researcher has developed a COVID-19 vaccine with a high probability to succeed but the cost of clinical trial has become an obstacle.
Ehanire, however said, government may seek alternative funding by reaching out to sponsors who would recoup their investment when the vaccine is successful.
He said: “There is no personal interest in this. There are at least two, perhaps even three, Nigerian laboratories that have developed what you call vaccine candidates.
“In fact, yesterday, we also talked to a fourth Nigerian laboratory, based in Maryland, USA, he has also produced his own vaccine candidate. A vaccine candidate means that you have already been able to get the antigen, you have produced something that will work.
“Now, you have to do what is called the clinical trials; clinical trial means you go through testing to show that it’s safe, it doesn’t cause a problem. Secondly, that it does what it promises to do; generate antibodies in your system.
“So, you go through those clinical trials, which are very detailed and they are expensive.
“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 is a lot. Do we have that now to test a vaccine? Well, we say we 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 it is successful, they buy it and that means you are done. But if it turns out not to have worked, your money is gone.’’
“It is hard to find a way to sponsor these clinical trials because they are expensive and they have a very good chance of being successful, but some of them also have a good chance of not being strong enough you know, the trick of efficacy. The efficacy means how well it works.
“So, we want to support our own vaccine and do the necessary thing to make sure they come out, butwe are looking for the funds to support and also the necessary technical and whatever other backings that are required to get them to a level where they can… not only shall we be proud, it will be cheaper for us, we can be able to export also,’’ the minister explained.
He added:“We are looking at that, and that’s in fact our preference. We know that those who are producing vaccine now, we are at their mercy and I’ve said before that even if you have money now, you may not even get your vaccine.”