Federal Governments initiative to embark on local production of COVID-19 vaccine has suffered a major setback as the National Assembly (NASS), on Wednesday, January 27, mandated its stoppage.
The Health Ministry had planned to produce COVID-19 vaccines locally at the cost of N10 billion.
According to the NASS, this development was due to the Health Ministry’s lack of a specific plan on the local production of the COVID-19 vaccine.
The Ministry of Finance released N10 billion to the Health Ministry; in order to stem the spread of the pandemic second wave.
On Wednesday, January 27, the NASS Joint Committee on Health met with the Ministry of Health in Abuja on the matter.
The lawmakers at the meeting were dissatisfied with the explanation of the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, on how his ministry planned to utilise the N10 billion.
In his reaction, the Chairman Senate Committee on Health, Ibrahim Oloriegbe, told the Minister that they were not satisfied with his explanation, hence, he must suspend spending the money.
Oloriegbe said, “This N10 billion is just given to you; with due respect, with what you have given to us, you don’t have a specific detailed plan for it.
“Our decision, for now, is that you can’t spend it (the N10 billion); until you provide us with a satisfactory answer.
“Once you provide us the details then we will invite all the necessary persons.”
In his comments, Ehanire stated the N10 billion was part of an agreement the Federal Government reached; with a foreign partner, May and Baker PLC for the production of bio vaccines.
He added that the Health Ministry was working with a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) the Federal Government; and the foreign partner agreed on for the production of the bio vaccines.
The health Minister attended the meeting in the company of the Minister of State for Health, Olorunnimbe Mamora; and the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry among others.