Nigeria would, tomorrow, 2nd March, take delivery of 3.92 million doses of the longawaited AstraZeneca COVID- 19 vaccine. A joint statement by the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), yesterday, in Abuja, noted that in West Africa, Nigeria was benefitting from the COVAX Facility after Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire.
The delivery is part of an overall 16 million doses planned to be delivered to Nigeria in batches over the next months by the COVAX Facility co-led by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, WHO and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), with UNICEF as a key implementing partner.
Nigeria is expected to, through the NPHCDA, commence the vaccination of at least 70 per cent of eligible Nigerians aged 18 years and above in four phases within two years in priority groups, starting with the frontline healthcare workers immediately the vaccines arrive tomorrow.
Executive Director and Chief Executive of NPHCDA, Dr. Faisal Shuaib, noted that President Muhammandu Buhari, the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, were instrumental to arrival of the vaccines. “The arrival of this vaccine is the result of the commitment of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
We are fully prepared to receive and deliver the vaccine to eligible Nigerians as we have commenced the training of health workers and ensured that cold chain facilities are ready at all levels.
“We have a robust cold chain system that can store all types of COVID-19 vaccine in accordance with the required temperature. We are, therefore, confident that we will have a very effective roll-out of the vaccine, starting with our critical healthcare workers, who are in the frontline in providing the care we all need.”
UNICEF Nigeria Country Representative, Peter Hawkins, noted that: “The COVAX Facility has worked exceptionally hard to ensure that Nigeria gets the vaccine as soon as possible so it can start its vaccination programme to the largest population in Africa.”
On his part, WHO Representative in Nigeria, Dr. Walter Mulombo, urged Nigerians to ensure continuous compliance to all measures put in place to contain the virus, as the vaccination exercise was planned to take two years.
“Vaccines are a critical tool in the battle against COVID-19. In the meantime, Nigerians must continue to take steps to contain the virus, as the vaccination programme will take at least a year before it is fully effective.”