The Federal Government of Nigeria has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Biovaccine Nigeria Limited (BVNL) giving rise to a joint venture between the Federal Government and May & Baker Nigeria Limited for the production of locally-made vaccines.
According to a statement by Director, Media and Public Relations, Federal Ministry of Health, Olujimi Oyetomi, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire who signed the MoU on behalf of the Federal Government on the 5th of November, 2020, at the Federal Ministry of Health Conference Room, Abuja, described the event as “a milestone in our national desire for self-reliance in vaccine production.”
He said the COVID-19 pandemic brought the attention of the country to the need for domestic production capabilities of vaccines among other commodities as well as self-sufficiency in other endeavors with efforts being made to support home-grown manufacturing of healthcare commodities.
The minister informed his audience that the MoU, which was being signed, had undergone various appraisals and amendments by the Legal Unit of the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) as well as the Federal Ministry of Justice before arriving at the final draft.
“The MOU will serve as an implementation framework for guaranteeing market access, which is conditional for transfer of technology to indigenous vaccine manufactures.”
Speaking further, Dr Ehanire disclosed that BVNL had been working with the Federal Government through the FMoH and the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) to ensure that the hitherto moribund Federal Vaccine Manufacturing Laboratory in Lagos was resuscitated for the production of safe and affordable vaccines for Nigeria and prospectively for Africa.
He expressed optimism that with the signing of the MoU, “BVNL can now start work fully in the process of vaccine production in Nigeria.”
The minister revealed that the Joint Venture Agreement, which was signed on the 25th of July 2017, had the Federal Government owning 49% shareholding being the value of Land and Real Estate assets of former Federal Vaccine Production Laboratory (FVPL) with May & Baker owing 51% share.
The BVNL is charged with the mandate to attract technology, build and develop capacity for research and development and local manufacturing of vaccines.
Members of the board of the BVNL constituted in 2017 include: Professor Oyewale Tomori as Chairman; Director, Food and Drug Services Department, FMoH as member; the Executive Director, NPHCDA also as a member, among others.
Those who were present to witness the MoU signing were the Minister of State for Health, Dr Olorunnimbe Mamora; the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health, Mr Abdullazi Mashi; the Director, Legal of the Ministry, Alhaji Diri; member of the Board of BVNL, Professor Oyewale Tomori; and other directors of the ministry.