An Emirate plane — Boeing 777300ER, carrying 3.94 million doses of the Astra- Zeneca COVID-19 vaccine arrived at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport Abuja in Nigeria at 11:36a.m. yesterday. The Boeing 777300ER Emirate aircraft has a cooling system.
The vaccine shipment is from COVAX, a global scheme to procure and distribute inoculations for free, as the world races to contain the Coronavirus pandemic. COVAX is co-led by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, WHO and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) working in partnership with UNICEF, the World Bank, civil society organisations, manufacturers and others.
Nigeria is the third country to receive the vaccine in Africa after Ghana and Cote d’voire from the COVAX facility, launched in April 2020 to ensure fairer distribution of the Coronavirus vaccine between rich and poor nations. A total of two billion doses is expected to be delivered to COVAX member nations by the end of 2021 and the 3.94 million doses is Nigeria’s first shipment from the 16 million doses initially expected in the country.
The 3.94 million doses of vaccine was licenced by the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, the Serum Institute of India as part of an initial tranche of deliveries headed to several low and middle-income countries which Nigeria is part of.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) says Nigeria has received nearly four million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, shipped via the COVAX Facility, a partnership between CEPI, Gavi, UNICEF and WHO. WHO Office in Nigeria, in a statement, stated that the arrival marked a historical step towards equitable distribution of the vaccines. “The arrival marked a historic step towards the goal to ensure equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines globally, in what will be the largest vaccine procurement and supply operation in history.
“The delivery is part of a first wave of arrivals in Nigeria that will continue in the coming days and weeks. “COVAX shipped 3.94 million doses of the AstraZeneca/ Oxford vaccine, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII) from Mumbai to Abuja,” WHO said. UN Resident Coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon, said: “The arrival of these vaccines in Abuja marks a milestone for the COVAX Facility in its unprecedented effort to deliver at least two billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines globally by the end of 2021.” The arrival of the COVID- 19 vaccine would enable the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) to commence the vaccination of Nigerians in priority groups, starting with frontline healthcare workers.
Thabani Maphosa, Managing Director for Country Programmes at Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, said the vaccine’s arrival “is a landmark moment for the country and the COVAX Facility’s mission to help end the acute phase of the pandemic by enabling equitable access to these vaccines across the world.
“We are glad to see Nigeria is amongst the first receiving the doses from COVAX, thanks to the excellent level of preparedness put in place by the Government of Nigeria. “Gavi looks forward to these vaccines being made available to the people most at risk, as soon as possible and to ensuring that routine immunisation services for other life-threatening infections are also delivered to avoid other disease outbreaks.” Also, Walter Kazadi Mulombo, WHO Representative in Nigeria, said: “These vaccines have undergone rigorous regulatory processes at global and country level and have been deemed safe and effective.” The COVAX Facility is expected to deliver around 90 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to the African Region in the first quarter of 2021 and has committed to providing up to 600 million doses to the region by end-2021 to cover 20 per cent of the population.