The Vaccine Development efforts of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) has started yielding visible results as the COVID-19 vaccine project sponsored by the Fund would be ready for first clinical trial in November this year.
The project, which is a mega research grant intervention tagged ‘Accelerated Development of COVID-19 Vaccines Using Innovative Technological Approach’ is a collaborative effort involving cluster researchers from five different institutions to consolidate problem-solving research and promote innovation in Nigeria.
TETFund had awarded a total of N1,250,000,000.00 (One Billion, Two Hundred and Fifty Million naira), distributed to four clusters of researchers. One of the clusters, which is the Vaccine Production Cluster, got a total grant of N450 Million (Four Hundred and Fifty Million naira ).
The Vaccine Production Cluster is made up of researchers from the National Veterinary Research Institute Vom, Usman Danfodiyo University Sokoto, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Jos, Nigerian Institute of Medical Research Lagos and National Research Institute for Chemical Technology, Zaria.
Vice Chancellor of Usman Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, Professor Lawal Bilbis, who led the team of researchers to brief the Executive Secretary of TETFund, Mr Sonny Echono on the progress so far, explained that they were able to achieve the feat through the maximum support of the Fund.
He said, “TETFund believed in us and supported us to get to where we are now. That is why we have come to give a firsthand report on the progress made so far”.
A presentation by Dr Bashir Muhammad Bello of Usman Danfodiyo University, Sokoto revealed that it has become a matter of urgency for Africa to join the rest of the world in the production of its own vaccine.
Dr Bello noted that it was estimated that the continent currently imports 99 percent of its vaccines and consumes 25 percent of global vaccine supply.
Responding, Mr Echono, lauded the team for the great feat achieved within a short time limit to make the country proud with the progress recorded in the vaccine production.
Mr Echono explained that it is a national project, that has become a national pride, assuring that TETFund would continue to assist the researchers to ensure the desired goal is achieved.
Writing by Daniel Adejo; editing by Hadiza Abdulrahman