ABUJA (Reuters) – Nigeria is working to develop a COVID-19 vaccine, President Muhammadu Buhari said in a televised interview on Thursday, as the country battles growing cases of the virus.
Health experts say Nigeria needs to triple its vaccination drive from just over 100,000 doses a day to meet its target of inoculating more than half its population by the end of next year.
The West African country has been exploring options to acquire or purchase vaccines through the COVAX facility to enable it to inoculate at least 70% of its population.
It received vaccine donations some of which had a shelf life that left only weeks to administer the shots. Nigeria destroyed more than one million expired vaccines last month.
“We are working very hard with the ministry of health to develop vaccines,” Buhari said on state television. “We shouldn’t make noise about it until we succeed.”
Nigeria, which has not tested widely for COVID-19, has recorded 245,404 COVID-19 cases and 3,058 deaths since the pandemic started.
In 2017, Nigeria’s cabinet approved a plan to produce basic vaccines with pharmaceutical firm May & Baker Nigeria via a joint venture. Its not clear whether the project took off.
Buhari said his administration is encouraging Nigerians to get inoculated. Fewer than 4% of adults in Africa’s most populous nation of over 200 million have been fully vaccinated.
(Reporting by Chijioke Ohuocha; Editing by Alistair Bell)