The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) yesterday said it was reviewing funding requests by local researchers to support the development of vaccines and drugs for COVID-19.
THISDAY had last week reported that paucity of funding had hampered efforts of the nation’s major research institutions to develop vaccines and curative drugs for the disease.
But the CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, in a telephone chat with THISDAY yesterday said the bank was perusing applications for funding by world class Nigerian private and public research organisations interested in the development of vaccines and drugs to fight the pandemic.
Meanwhile, the federal government, through the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) is scaling up testing capacities through the activation of three new COVID-19 testing laboratories in the country, bringing the total number to 23.
It also reported last night that Nigeria had recorded 248 new cases, bringing the total to 4, 399 in the country.
The centre said Lagos recorded 81 new cases, Jigawa 35, Borno and Kano 26 each, Bauchi 20, Federal Capital Territory (FCT) 13, Edo 12, Sokoto 10, Zamfara seven, Kwara and Kebbi four each, Gombe, Taraba, Ekiti and Ogun two each, while Osun and Bayelsa recorded one each.
The number of those tested rose to 23, 835.
The Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) has also promised to increase its patronage of locally manufactured Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in the battle against the spread of the virus.
However, the population of people being treated for the virus reduced at the weekend with the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Lagos, Borno and Kano States discharging 82 more patients.
Emefiele, in the interview, said the apex bank had received proposals from both public and private research organisations, and was considering them preparatory to approval and disbursement of funds to research to speed up the discovery of vaccines for the virus.
He added that out of the N100 billion healthcare intervention fund that the central bank unveiled in March, the first beneficiary, Fidson Healthcare Plc, one of the leading pharmaceutical manufacturing companies had received approval for N2.5 billion.
Emefiele said: “We are assessing the various proposals that have been sent to us by researchers for the development and trial of vaccines and in due course we would make some announcements about those that met our requirement and those we would support for vaccine.
“Also, from the N100 billion health sector facility, we have approved for Fidson Healthcare N2.5 billion to expand its plant into the production of ethical drugs and intravenous. So, we are also reviewing other requests for funding for the N100 billion facility and in due course we would make the announcement.”
The CBN had in March released guidelines for accessing its N100 billion credit support facility for its healthcare sector. The fund was announced as part of a raft of measures to cushion the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy.