The federal government has raised hope of the possibility of having access to COVID-19 vaccines by January 2021. Responding to questions from journalists after the weekly virtual Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting chaired by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo yesterday, the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, said the government has been working closely with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Gavi in order to make the vaccines available as soon as possible. He, however, cautionedthat those countries manufacturingthevaccineswouldwantto serve their citizens first before considering others.
Ehanire said: “A technical working group is working on the question on vaccine. We have signed up with the World HealthOrganisationandGavi foraccesstovaccinesimmediately they are available.
“But you know that these vaccines are new and are in packets and the producers are not giving any indemnity. These countries where these vaccines are manufactured, have of course, given themselves the priority to serve themselves, serve their own citizens first and we hope that the pressure from the World Health Organisation and Gavi will be able to get reserves for other countries that are not manufacturing and they will be able to attend to what will signed up to. “We signed up for advanced market participation in Cobax. So, if we will be able to get our own, I think it will be in January.
“But there are two types of vaccines. There are those that have to be in ultra-deep freezers – the MRA type of vaccines. That is the freezer that must give you Minus 80 percent type of degree. “Thereisanothertype that has to be in the deep freezer of Minus 20 degree which is a deep freezer and there is another typethat canbein minus two degree refrigerators. “This is the regular refrigerator. The one that will be in regular refrigerators is easy. We have them here.
The one that will be in Minus 20 refrigerators is also going to be possible because we also have the freezers here but the one that will be in ultra-cold freezers, we hardly have ultra- cold freezers in this country and to receive and store in those ultra-cold freezers will require that you purchase the ultra-cold freezers. “So, we are working on the cost. Which one shall we get first? Obviously the one we can afford. Remember that we have 200 million citizens. We need to have a way to be able to get enough to be able to take care of our citizens.”