President Muhammadu Buhari and his Vice, Yemi Osinbajo, were yesterday publicly vaccinated with the newly received Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at the Presidential Villa.
The vaccination was preceded by e-registration of the President and his Vice, while filling of their vaccination cards was done by Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Faisal Shuaib. Buhari’s vaccination was done by his Personal Physician, Dr. Suhayb Rafindadi Sanusi, after which he was presented with the e-vaccination card by Shuaib.
The vaccination of the Vice President was equally done by his personal physician, Dr. Nicholas Audifferen, and was also presented the e-vaccination card by the NPHCDA’s boss.
The President, in his remarks, said he received the jab publicly to demonstrate his faith in the efficacy of the vaccine, just as he called on the public to do the same in order to get protected against the pandemic.
He said: “Since the beginning of the year 2020, humanity has remained under the burden of COVID-19 pandemic, an unseen but very potent enemy around the world. Infection from the virus has resulted in over 2.5 million fatalities and destroyed several global and national systems.
“The response in Nigeria and the ECOWAS subregion has been robust, collaborative and united. It was driven by a collective knowledge of the fact that ‘no country is safe until every country is safe’. “The speedy development of the COVID-19 vaccines is quite significant and underscores the collective resolve of humanity to overcome the pandemic. Similarly, the collaborative effort to ensure equal access has brought relief to poor and developing countries.
“I have been assured by the Presidential Task Force that the AstraZeneca vaccine which Nigeria has accessed, will arrive in batches beginning with the first batch of about four million doses already received. I am similarly aware of the roll out and administration plan to cater for over 70 per cent of our population between 2021 and 2022.
“Yesterday (Friday), our frontline medical personnel, top on the priority list, were vaccinated. Today, as a demonstration of leadership and faith in the safety and efficacy of the vaccines, I have received my first jab and I wish to recommend it to all eligible Nigerians, to do the same so that we can be protected from the virus. “I urge all state governments, traditional and religious leaders, to take the lead in the mobilization effort within their environment and spheres of influence. The vaccine offers hope for a safe country, free of coronavirus.
“Similarly I urge all eligible Nigerians to present themselves and be vaccinated in accordance with the order of priority already mapped out, at the various authorized designated centres only.”
The PTF Chairman and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, who described the day as memorable in the life of the country, said it was made possible because of the sterling leadership qualities the President provided in the national response to COVID-19. According to him, they had demonstrated leadership by offering themselves publicly for vaccination so as to prove the efficacy and safety of the vaccine, reiterating that soon, nobody would be able to travel without vaccination. He urged people to take the vaccine to be administered only by the PHCDA officials, warning that the fake version from unauthorized persons would soon flood the country. He charged the NAFDAC to be at alert to checkmate the influx of the fake version of the vaccine. Meanwhile, the NPCDA boss described as false, the news that the agency had budgeted the sum of N10.6 billion to transport COVID-19 vaccine to the 36 states and the 774 local government areas as well as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Shuaib explained that Private sector-led Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID), had already undertaken to distribute the vaccines to states at no cost to the government. He said: “I mean, I’m hearing this from you for the first time. It doesn’t make any sense that on the one hand, we’ve communicated very clearly to Nigerians that CACOVID, a private sector initiative, has provided a cargo plane that will help deliver the vaccines from Abuja to all states that have functional airports.
For those that do not have functional airports, there is a delivery van that will convey the vaccines from those airports to the states without functionality. “I do not see how that is going to cost N10 billion. So there is no truth in that information.
“The truth is what I have told you, which is that CACOVID has taken up the responsibility of delivering the vaccines from Abuja to the states. The only cost we’re going to incur is the cost of delivering the vaccines from any airport to nearby states that don’t have functional airports. Clearly that cannot be N10.6 billion.”
On the latest development on the 100,000 doses of Pfizer vaccines, the NPHCDA boss said: “So what happened was that there was a committee that met at global level, and took the decision that it made more sense for Nigeria to get 16 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccines rather than 100,000 doses of Pfizer’s.
“Hundred thousand doses of Pfizer vaccine is a drop in the ocean and given that the AstraZeneca vaccine is more suited to our cold chain environments from +2 to +8 °C. Not only do we have the necessary cold-chain equipment, but also our health workers have the capacity to manage vaccines of that temperature.
So it just makes sense that we should get vaccines that are more suited to Nigeria.”