CBN pegs grants for vaccine development at N500m


By Kayode Tokede

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has unveiled the guidelines for the Healthcare Research and Development Grant under which beneficiaries can draw from a maximum of N50 million to N500 million depending on the category.

According to the guidelines, healthcare firms that are at the research stage, N50 million is the maximum grant to draw while those that have moved to the manufacturing stage can get up to N500 million.

The guidelines released Tuesday by the apex bank came two weeks after the inauguration of the Body of Experts (BoE) for the Healthcare Sector Research and Development Intervention Scheme (HSRDIS) by Boss Mustapha, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF).

The scheme, HSRDIS by the CBN is in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to help strengthen the public healthcare system with innovative financing of research and development (R&D) to trigger intense national R&D activities to develop a Nigerian vaccine, drugs and herbal medicines against the spread of COVID-19 and any other communicable or non-communicable diseases through the provision of grants to biotechnological and pharmaceutical companies, institutions, researchers, and research institutes for the research and development of drugs, herbal medicines, and vaccines for the control, prevention, and treatment of infectious diseases.

The scheme which is expected to generate interest from Nigerian pharmaceutical firms will be funded from the developmental component of the CBN’s Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprise Development Fund (MSMEDF).

A similar credit support intervention programme that was initiated for the healthcare sector at the early stage of the COVID-19 for which N100 billion was set aside, has funded 20 projects valued at N26.75 billion according to the Governor, of the CBN, Godwin Emefiele.

To qualify for the grant under the new scheme, the guidelines prescribe that the applicants, must “have conducted preclinical testing of the candidate drugs, herbal medicines and vaccines, and obtained certification from relevant health authorities for further research and development.”

The apex bank, however, gave special consideration to candidate drugs, herbal medicines and vaccines with high scientific merit against emerging infections and contribute to the development of the Nigerian vaccine.”

The apex bank said, “The guidelines expect the beneficiaries that are at the development/manufacturing stage to produce the drug or vaccine within a year of the release of fund.

“Applicants are expected to furnish relevant documentation including validation from relevant health authorities, trial results, patent registration details (if any) and development timetable to the BoE which comprises of 2 independent research specialists appointed by the CBN, One representative of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), One representative of the Nigeria Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD), and One representative of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

“Others are one representative of the Nigeria Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) and one representative of the Federal Ministry of Health which shall evaluate the proposed drugs or vaccines and recommend to the CBN.

“The apex bank shall thereafter review each for documentation adequacy and completeness, and upon approval, release the grant sum to the applicant’s account with any participating financial institution of his/her choice.

“The beneficiary is expected to submit a periodic progress report on the project to the CBN, which shall have “proprietary right over all financed R&D outcomes or products.

“Licensing protocol for the mass manufacturing of developed drugs, phytomedicines and vaccines shall be defined by the BoE in accordance with the World Health Organisation’s current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP),” the guideline stated.

“The scheme is chaired by the Director-General, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, who said it was designed to increase Nigeria’s research and development activities to support the development of validated Nigeria-made vaccines, drugs and herbal medicines.”