Nigeria currently lacks the technology to produce a COVID-19 vaccine since the process of making a vaccine necessitates a large expenditure, according to Prof. Abdullahi Mustapha, Director-General of the National Biotechnology Development Agency.
He did say, however, that the agency was working on basic vaccine production with the Cuban Embassy, the World Health Organization, and other relevant institutions.
Mustapha revealed these in a conversation with journalists in Abuja about the agency’s accomplishments in 2021.
He said, “Research requires a thorough investigation, most especially when it has to do with human life. Not all countries have developed a vaccine but only a few of them, and you cannot say these countries are not doing their best to produce a vaccine. In Nigeria, we don’t have vaccine technology.
“In the meantime, what we are even talking about is the vaccine technology not even production of vaccine. We need resources, human capital, training and retaining.”
He said the process of producing a vaccine has to go through certain rigours, clinical investigations and certification by agencies in the country, including the WHO.
“It is something we have to be very much careful and certain about. We also have to show due process for the scientific community to accept.
“It is not something we can jump and conclude. We are working hard and have done a significant part of it and hopefully, we will come out with a vaccine no African country has produced. It is not something easy. We have the expertise and resource but we need injection of funds,” he stated.
Science, technology, and innovation, according to the NABDA DG, will help Nigeria overcome the issues of primitive agriculture and rising poverty levels.
Mustapha stated that the genes of the insert have been declared safe by the National Biosafety Management Agency, promising farmers that genetically modified maize will be available in the next 18 months.
Nigeria is on the road to food and nutrition security, he said, with the commercialization of two genetically modified crops, Bt Cotton and Bt Cowpea, a poor borer resistant cowpea.
According to him, this would also result in the creation of millions of jobs, with around eight million Nigerian farmers and their families directly benefiting from the newly launched pod borer resistant cowpea type.
He said the agency had inked a Memorandum of Understanding with the Rural Electrification Agency to utilise the BEGS Digester, an innovative made-in-Nigeria technology, to provide rural communities with equal access to long-term electricity supplies.
Furthermore, He said “We are about to produce Bt soybean which is presently in the research and development pipeline. This soybean will be herbicide-tolerant and beneficial to the country.”
Mustapha, on the other hand, bemoaned the fact that, despite the agency’s innovative findings, luddites had used a variety of antagonistic tactics to hinder the culture of creativity.
He emphasized the importance of the media in raising awareness and encouraging the adoption of agriculture biotechnologies.