Nigeria’s health minister, Osagie Ehanire, has said efforts are ongoing to secure about 10 million more doses of the approved COVID-19 vaccines for Nigerians.
Mr Ehanire while speaking at the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 briefing, on Monday, said the country is expecting 10 million doses of the viral vector vaccine, which could be supplied as from March 2021.
He said Nigeria is participating in the African Union initiative called “African Vaccine Availability Task Team”, which has secured 270 million doses of various types of vaccines.
“Bearing in mind options suitable for our environment and the available infrastructure, as well as Investment in delivery, Nigeria has written to express interest in 10 million doses of the viral vector vaccine, which could be supplied as from March 2021,” Mr Ehanire said.
“Apart from the COVAX facility, which is billed to cover just 20 per cent of our population, we plan to increase our chances of getting enough vaccines to meet the country’s need to cover an additional 50 per cent of the population.”
The Nigerian government had said it will receive at least 100,000 doses of the Pfizer and BioNTech approved COVID-19 vaccines by the end of January through COVAX, an initiative run by the vaccine alliance, GAVI, to ensure equitable access to vaccine.
It also said the country is expecting ‘free’ 42 million doses of vaccines in the second phase through the COVAX facility.
These vaccines will cover only about 20 per cent of Nigeria’s over 200 million estimated population.
Mr Ehanire said preparations are ongoing to receive the COVID-19 vaccines.
He said this requires countries to develop a procurement, supply chain and distribution plan for commodities and devices, as well as a sustainability plan.
“These we are already working on so that we are ready when the vaccines arrive,” he said.
He said the government will engage other agencies, religious and traditional leaders in the plans for vaccines distribution.
He explained that their role is critical to the orderly and successful deployment of vaccines.
“We must be able to reach all those eligible to receive the vaccines,” he said.
Mr Ehanire had in late November, inaugurated an 18-member national COVID-19 task team to ensure ‘vaccine security’ when it finally gets to the country.
He said the committee would have a seven-point of reference which will include generating strategies for acquisition, deployment and options for licensed production of the vaccines.
The minister urged citizens to disregard claims by some people selling fake COVID-19 vaccines in the country.
He said there are procedures for vaccine acquisition and use which include appropriate regulation and certification by NAFDAC.
“I advise against fake vaccines, as there is no vaccine approved for use in the country and NPHCDA is the only authorized vaccine administrator in Nigeria,” he said.
The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration Control (NAFDAC) has earlier cautioned Nigerians over ‘fake coronavirus vaccines’, explaining that no vaccines have been approved by the agency.
“NAFDAC has not received any application from Covid Vaccine manufacturers yet and therefore no vaccines have been approved by NAFDAC.
“COVID-19 vaccines are new, and the side effects or adverse events must be well monitored, therefore, if NAFDAC does not approve, the public should not use,” Director-General of the agency, Mojisola Adeyeye, said.
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