We’ll give grants to scientists, researchers to aid local vaccines production – Emefiele

*Virus has reawakened collaboration between critical partners – SGF
*Equipment for public hospitals later – Sahara Group
*As donations by private sector hits N27bn

COVID-19: CBN to give grants to scientists, researchers to aid produce local vaccines- Emefiele

THE Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, on Tuesday disclosed that it was developing a framework that would provide grants and long term facilities for researchers, science institutions and biotechnology firms to develop the Nigerian Vaccine.

Governor of CBN, Godwin Emefiele who disclosed this at the unveiling of the THISDAY Dome Testing, Tracing & Treatment Centre in Abuja, explained that the reason for the framework was to encourage greater research and development in Nigeria of drugs and vaccines that would help prevent the spread of the virus.

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

He said that Nigeria’s economy was exposed to triple shocks a supply shock, a demand shock and a revenue shock, adding that the country was 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, who have come 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 him, 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 of the 19305.

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“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 percent 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 NSOb 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 that, “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 the realization of this fact that the CBN recently launched an N100bn healthcare intervention fund. Practitioners in the Pharmaceutical and health care sectors will be able to access finance at a 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.”

He commended the Nigerian private sector, who have come together under the Coalition against COVID-19 (CA -COVID) to support the government, by raising funds to procure needed Isolation Centres, medical equipment, etc.

“So far, the CA-COVlD-19 has raised up to N27 Billion to fund these initiatives. These donations are being used to build well-equipped isolation centres across the 36 states of the federation.

“The THISDAY Dome Testing, Tracing and Treatment Centre being launched today (Tuesday) represents a part of the support being provided by the CA COVID alliance.

“These measures will result in the addition of close to 4,000 hospital beds across the country and will serve as a significant boost towards our efforts at containing the spread of COVlD-19.”

He said that CACOVID has equipped and handed over Isolation Centres in Rivers, Enugu, Kwara, Ondo, and Borno States, adding, “It is expected that all other Isolation Centres will be handed over in other States of the country by May 23, 2020.”

He further stated that in a bid to complement the efforts of the government in providing palliatives to those affected by the containment measures put in place to prevent the spread of the virus, CACOVID is also providing in-kind assistance in the form of food items to indigent Nigerians across the 36 states of the federation.

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“These efforts are noteworthy as members of the Nigerian private sector have stood up to be counted when it mattered most to our dear country.

“I would like to once again thank members of the CA COVID alliance for their commitment in meeting the needs of vulnerable Nigerians, especially in these extraordinary times,” he said.

Emefiele thanked President Muhammadu Buhari, the Presidential Task Force on COVlD-_19 led by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha, the Federal Ministry of Health led by Dr Osagie Ehanire and Senator Olurunnimbe Mamora, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, and the health workers, who are all in the frontline, working day and night to help prevent the spread of the virus.

He also commended Minister of the Federal Capital Territory Administration, Mallam Musa Bello, the Minister of State, Dr Ramatu Tijani Aliyu for effective leadership in containing COVlD-19 in Abuja.

He assured that the CBN will continue to work with them on solutions that can help Nigeria address the present public health challenge.

He equally commended the Management of THISDAY Media Group, and their partners, for putting together the team that set up the magnificent care centre, which encompasses testing, tracing and treatment to help in boosting Nigeria’s capacity to adequately contain the spread of COVlD-19 in the FCT and beyond.

In his remarks, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Boss Mustapha said the COVID 19 pandemic has brought a reawakening to both Government and the Private Sector to collaborate in the injection of a much-needed investment into the health care system.

He said, “The COVID-19 has totally overwhelmed even the best of health systems in the world and that serves all developing nations a powerful notice to wake up.

“Today, we are witnessing the realization of the synergy with the commissioning of this facility, which is designed to accommodate 300 beds and is scalable to 500.

“The speed and commitment demonstrated by the partners that developed this infrastructure is a call to other private sector entities to also get involved in the development of public interest facilities.

“The PTF advocates strongly that lessons to be drawn from COVID-19 should, therefore, revolve around development, future planning, consensus building, collaboration and partnerships. The government can not always do it alone. We must all be involved.

“I have been informed that this facility also has an intensive care unit for the treatment of the most severe cases of COVID 19. This would go a long way in providing care for the growing number of cases especially for levels 1 and 2 categories.

“I am also happy to note that this is one of the facilities into which care for persons living with disabilities who might get infected, has been incorporated.”

On his part, the Executive Director, Sahara Group, Temitope Shonubi, said the equipment donated for the Centres will be moved to public hospitals to equip them after the COVID-19.

According to him, “All of the equipment Sahara Group has provided to the isolation centre through the Sahara Foundation will be donated to the federal ministry of health when the pandemic is over.

“We believe this will shore up the availability of this equipment in some of our tertiary medical institutions. This for us is in line with the sustainability principle that guides all our interventions in our locations across the globe.

“Even beyond here, we have some extra equipment which will be sent to other centres that are being developed to ensure the virus is effectively contained in Nigeria.

“It is great to see how collaboration between the private and public sector is advancing our response to the pandemic robustly.

“All the stakeholders have worked collectively to make the process of bringing in medical equipment and establishing more ventures seamless. Sahara Group is delighted and honoured to be part of such positive partnerships that can only enhance the well being of all Nigerians.”

Remarks By The MD of CCECC, Micheal Jiang At the Commissioning of ThisDay Dome Temporary Treatment & Isolation Centre in Abuja late

Also speaking, the Managing Director of CCECC Mr Micheal Jiang said that the CCECC was committed to helping the federal government of Nigeria wipe out the scourge of the coronavirus in the country.

He noted that since the outbreak of COVID-19 the CCECC has made several donations to the federal government, adding that a few days ago, the company made a donation of a 500-bed isolation facility to the government in the Idu area of the FCT.

He noted that the company has contributed to the current facility by providing all civil and mechanical engineering works.

He said that as the largest construction company in the country the CCECC would continue to work towards the development of the country and the wellbeing of the citizens.

He said CCECC was a responsible company and would always contribute to the good of Nigeria whenever it is called upon to do.

Other donations made by the company apart from the engineering works include PPE. Face mask and others.

Chairman of ThisDay Media and Technology Group, Nduka Obaigbena, in his remark said: “As citizens we believe we should join hands with our government to solve this existential crisis.

“THISDAY Dome has been here for many years so we thought we should make it available to fight this pandemic and we partnered with Sahara Group to put together a coalition which was led by Cacovid, NNPC, CCECC, CBN, and others.

“We put together a collective to join hands with the federal government to deal with crisis at hand.

“This facility has four branches, over there is a facility where you can test, treat and fix. So we have a 54-gene testing laboratory, with state of art molecular laboratory equipment which is ready to go.

“It can handle 200 tests per day scalable and it does about 50 tests at the same time. Because of paperwork and other documentation, it produces a result within 24 hours.

“We have the tracing App which has been developed by our technology team, as you know THISDAY is not Just a newspaper outfit only, it is now a technology company, so we have developers in Europe and Nigeria who have out this tracing App together.

“When you are tested, we can trace all your contacts with App and if you have requirements for isolation and treatment, there is Sahara ward and intensive care unit for you there. We have ICU beds, ventilators, medical waste incinerators, it has everything you need.

“So in this one facility, you can solve all the problems of covid19 and we thought that we should work with the federal government by making it available at no charge.

“So the purpose of THISDAY is to inform, this Dome has been there, it was the seat of the Editorial Board of THISDAY, in between events and I remember one of our members who attended THISDAY board meeting from 2011 to 2015, coming here every Wednesday to debate on something that will make Nigeria better passed on. (At this stage, he called for a minute silence in honour of the memory of late former Chief of Staff to the president, Abba Kayari). We remember today and we remember him always “.

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