Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has challenged Nigerian scientists at home and in the diaspora to go back to their laboratories and develop a Nigerian vaccine for the cure and prevention of the novel Coronavirus.
The CBN governor said once a vaccine is produced, the apex bank will intervene to ensure that all Nigerian lives are safeguarded. “Once validated by the Health Authorities, the CBN will step in and do the needful for the sake of over 200 million Nigerians now confronted by COVID-19,” Emefiele remarked yesterday at the launching of THISDAY Dome Testing, Tracing and Treatment Centre in Abuja, which he said represents a part of the support being provided by the CA – COVID alliance.
Mr Emefiele also disclosed that the funds so far donated by the Nigerian private sector, under the Coalition against COVID-19 (CA -COVID) has risen up to N27 billion. The funds are being donated to support the government to procure needed Isolation Centres, medical equipment to contain the spread of COVID-19. The donations are being used to build well equipped isolation centres across the 36 states of the federation, he said.
According to Emefiele, the CBN is developing a framework under which grants and long term facilities will be provided to researchers, science institutions and biotechnology firms to develop the Nigerian Vaccine. He said the move is designed to encourage greater research and development of drugs and vaccines that would help prevent the spread of the virus in Nigeria.
“I wish to acknowledge however, that our ability to restore the growth of our economy is dependent on how we address the public health crisis brought on by COVID-19,” he stated.
The CBN recently launched a N100 billion healthcare intervention fund. Practitioners in the Pharmaceutical and health care sectors are to access finance at single digit rate through this fund. The objective is to improve the capacity of the nation’s health system to address emerging public health challenges.
Mr. Emefiele also announced that CACOVID has equipped and handed over Isolation Centres in Rivers, Enugu, Kwara, Ondo, and Borno States. It is expected that all other Isolation Centres will be handed over in other States of the country by May 23, 2020, he stated.
According to him, the private sector contributions will result in the addition of close to 4,000 hospital beds across the country and will serve as a significant boost towards government efforts at containing the spread of COVID-19.
Emefiele commended members of the CACOVID alliance for their commitment in meeting “the needs of vulnerable Nigerians, especially in these extraordinary times.”
The central bank has implemented several initiatives such as the N50 billion intervention facility for small and medium scale enterprises affected by COVID-19; in addition to the N1 trillion facility for firms operating in the agriculture and manufacturing sectors.