The hope of ending the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic rose again on Wednesday when Pfizer Inc, a research-based global biopharmaceutical company and one of the companies currently developing a vaccine, known as BNT162 COVID-19, for the deadly diseases said the vaccine trial has successfully passed through the first two phases.
While speaking during a virtual meeting between the representatives of the BNT162 COVID-19 vaccine candidate and Vice- President Yemi Osibajo on Wednesday, Pfizer Country Manager and Representative in Africa, Olayinka Subair stated that the BNT162 COVID-19 vaccine trials are still ongoing, pointing that it would be entering the third phase, having just concluded the first two phases successfully.
Subair, however gave assurance that Nigeria will remain a priority country in its plans for the supply of the vaccines to Africa when the process is completed.
Pfizer Inc, an American multinational pharmaceutical corporation and Biopharmaceutical New Technologies (BioNtech), a German immunotherapy company, specialising in cancer medicine and other life-threatening diseases, in March, 2020 announced plans to work together to co-develop a potential COVID-19 vaccine.
The companies signed the Material Transfer and Collaboration Agreement on March 18, 2020, thereby kick-starting the process of working together to find a vaccine that could put an end to the pandemic. The collaboration aims to accelerate the global development of mRNA-based vaccine candidate BNT162, thereby leveraging the expertise and resources of both companies.
In his remark at the meeting, which was to discuss the progress of vaccine development around the world, including Africa; Nigeria Vice- President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, stated that the Federal Government would examine every possible option available in the development and distribution of a vaccine against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prof. Osinbajo reiterated that the interaction between the Federal Government and the promoters of the vaccine is essential, pointing that the health and safety of every Nigerian remains a priority.
He said “It is an important conversation. It is important for us that we are prioritised as the largest country in Africa in the distribution of the best COVID-19 vaccine when it’s eventually ready. Our priority is the health of Nigerian citizens.
‘We will continue to engage and intend to look at every possible option -from all manufacturers- of a good vaccine. We want to do the very best for our people in this regard”.
Also speaking at the meeting on the choice of company that would supply the vaccine in Nigeria, the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire pointed out that the Nigeria government would consider among others the quality, appropriate volume, how well and quickly a vaccine can be delivered to Nigerians in deciding which manufacturer to make the supply.
The meeting was also attended by the Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Faisal Shuaib and representatives of Pfizer and Biotech, the international pharmaceutical firms promoting the BNT162 vaccine candidate.