COVID-19: CBN Will Fund Research For Local Vaccine – Emefiele

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has disclosed that it is developing a framework that would provide grants and long term facilities for researchers, science institutions and biotechnology firms to develop the Nigerian vaccine against COVID-19.

The CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, disclosed this at the unveiling of the THISDAY Dome Testing, Tracing & Treatment Centre in Abuja.

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Emefiele  explained that the reason for the framework is to encourage greater research and development in Nigeria of drugs and vaccines that would help prevent the spread of the virus.

Emefiele said the global economic growth is expected to contract to three percent in 2020, down from a positive growth rate of 2.9 percent in 2019, which he said is effectively a six percent contraction.

Nigeria’s economy, he said, is exposed to triple shocks a supply shock, a demand shock and a revenue shock, adding that the country is currently faced with a public health and economic crisis of unprecedented proportions, driven primarily by the 55 percent .drop in crude oil prices between January and May 2020.

He expressed appreciation to Nigerian private sector, which came together under the Coalition Against COVID-19 (CA-COVID) to support the government by raising funds to procure needed Isolation centres, medical equipment, etc.

According to Emefiele, the CA-COVlD-19 has raised up to N27 billion, which is being used to build well-equipped isolation centres across the 36 states of the federation.

He said: “As we are all aware since the onset of COVID19 in December 2019, the Buhari administration has taken all necessary measures to contain the spread. COVID 19 has had an unprecedented effect on the global economy, impacting all nations big and small.

“Institutions like the IMF have pronounced that the effect on the global economy will be akin to the slowdown experienced during the Great Depression period.

”Global growth is expected to contract to 3 percent in 2020, down from a positive growth rate of 2.9 percent in 2019 which is effectively a 6% contraction.

”In Nigeria, our economy is exposed to triple shocks – a supply shock, a demand shock and a revenue shock.

”Permit me to state that we are currently faced with a public health and economic crisis of unprecedented proportions, driven primarily by the 55 percent drop in crude oil prices between January and May 2020.

”This unparalleled shock requires that the Federal and State governments along with the organized private sector, work together to address these challenges in order to preserve lives and restore economic activity and reset the economy of our dear country.

“In a bid to cushion the effects of COVID-19 on the Nigerian economy, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has implemented several initiatives such as the N50 billion intervention facility for small and medium scale enterprises affected by COVID-19; in addition to the N1 trillion facility for firms operating in the agriculture and manufacturing sectors.

”The CBN boss said that the government was also working with financial institutions to enable the continuous flow of credit to viable businesses while putting in place provisions such as moratoriums and restructuring of existing loans under CBN intervention funds, that have been provided to businesses.

He explained: “These measures are intended to cushion the effects of the slowdown in economic activity on businesses while putting them in better stead to help resuscitate economic activity in the country.

”I wish to acknowledge, however, that our ability to restore the growth of our economy is dependent on how we address the public health crisis brought on by COVID-19.

“It is in realization of this fact that the CBN recently launched a N100billion healthcare intervention fund. Practitioners in the pharmaceutical and health care sectors will be able to access finance at single digit rate through this fund.

”Our objective is to improve the capacity of our health system to address emerging public health challenges.

”Furthermore, in order to encourage greater research and development in Nigeria of drugs and vaccines that would help prevent the spread of the virus, the CBN is developing a framework under which grants and long term facilities will be provided to researchers, science institutions and biotechnology firms to develop the Nigerian vaccine.

“Needless to state that if we are to wait for foreign countries to develop their own vaccines, we will be the last in the queue to receive curative remedies for our teeming population.

”The Central Bank of Nigeria today challenges Nigerian scientists at home and in the diaspora to go back to their laboratories and develop a Nigerian vaccine.

”Once validated by the health authorities, the CBN will step in and do the needful for the sake of over 200 million Nigerians now confronted by COVID-19.

”Our inability to accurately predict the extent to which the coronavirus could spread, and how long it would last, requires that we build sufficient capacity within our health system in order to contain the spread of the virus, state by state, city by city and preserve the lives of vulnerable Nigerians.

“This requires that we all come together to support the ‘work of the Presidential Task Force in its determination to save lives and stem the pandemic.”i;ll