The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Mr. Godwin Emefiele, has announced that the apex bank is ready to support researchers, science-based institutions, and biotechnology firms with N100bn grant in the quest for a homegrown vaccine to fight Corona Virus Disease in Nigeria.
The apex bank governor, who spoke at the commissioning of ThisDay Dome Testing, Treating, Tracing and Isolation Centre in Abuja, said the pandemic has had an unprecedented effect on the global economy, impacting all nations big and small.
According to him, so far, the Coalition Against COVID-19, (CACOVID) has raised over N27 billion to fund this initiative.
He said the donations received so far are being used to build well-equipped isolation centres across the 36 states of the federation.
“The ThisDay Dome Testing, Treating, Tracing and Isolation Centre being launched today, represents a part of the support being provided by the CACOVID alliance. So far, CACOVID has equipped and handed over isolation centres in Rivers, Enugu, Kwara, Ondo, and Borno.
“It is expected that other isolation centres will be handed over in the other states of the country including FCT, by May 23, 2020. As part of measures put in place to cushion the effect of the COVID-19, CACOVID has provided food items to poor and Indigents Nigerians”, he said.
He said Nigeria’s economy is exposed to triple shock following the spread of the disease.
“In Nigeria, our economy is exposed to triple. Shock in supply and demand and shock revenue. Permit me to say that we are currently faced with public health and economy crises of unprecedented proportion driven primarily, by a 55% drop in crude oil between January and May 2020.
“This unparalleled shock requires that the federal and the state government along with the private sector work together to address these challenges in order to preserve life and restore economic activities and reset the economy of our dear county.
“I which to acknowledge, however, that our ability to restore the growth of our economy is dependent on how we address our public health crises occasioned by the COVID 19.
“It is in the realization of this fact that the CBN recently launched a N100 billion Nara health care intervention fund. Practitioners in the pharmaceutical and health care sector will be able to access finance at a single-digit interest rate through these funds.
“Needless to say that if we wait for other countries to develop a vaccine, we will be the last to receive curative remedy for our teeming population.
“The CBN, today, challenges Nigerian scientist to go back into their laboratories and develop Nigeria homegrown vaccine. Once validated by the authorities, the CBN will step in and do the needful for the sake of 200m Nigerians now confronted by COVID 19”, he said.
Also, speaking at the event, Secretary to the government of the federation said the facility being commissioned is 300-bed space which will be increased to 500-bed space and 54 gene testing facilities.
He also said from January 30th till date, there has been 4.2 million confirmed cases, 287, 000 fatalities and 1.5 million recovery globally.
According to him, in Africa, 62,000 confirmed cases have been recorded with 2,200 fatalities across 53 countries.
The minister of health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, who also spoke at the event said it takes all hands on deck to tackle the worst single public health emergency of our generation.
“The nature of this virus makes the identification and isolation of infected persons and their contacts a public health imperative and the importance cannot be over-emphasized” he said.