The Nigerian government says it has no plans to spend N10 billion to distribute COVID-19 vaccines contrary to a newspaper report.
The Executive Secretary of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Faisal Shuaib, stated the government’s position in Abuja on Saturday.
A report published by the Punch newspapers on Friday stated that the government earmarked N10.6 billion to transport COVID-19 vaccines to the 36 states and the 774 Local Government Areas as well as the Federal Capital Territory and its five area councils. That amount, if true, would be considered highly inflated in a country battling with official corruption.
The report quoting a document titled, ‘Estimated Budget for States Rollout of COVID-19 Vaccines (end-to-end),’ stated that N1.4 billion was also set aside for the procurement of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) while N373 million was earmarked for the purchase of Adverse Events Immunisation kits (AEFI).
According the Punch, the document was presented to the 36 governors during a meeting between representatives of the Federal Ministry of Health and the Nigeria Governors Forum on Thursday.
The total amount of money earmarked for the transportation of vaccine, PPE, AEFI kits and sensitisation was summed up at N12.7 billion, the PUNCH reported.
Mr Shuaib while addressing journalists shortly after President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo received jabs of the COVID-19 vaccines on Saturday said there is no truth in the report.
“I’m hearing this from you for the first time. It doesn’t make any sense that on one hand, we have communicated clearly to Nigerians that CACOVID has provided a cargo plane that will help deliver the vaccines from Abuja to all states that have functional airports,” he said.
“For those with no airport, there is a delivery van that will convene the vaccines from the airport to those states with no functional airport.”
Mr Shuaib said the process of vaccines distribution cannot cost more than N1 billion which CACOVID, a private sector-led coalition against COVID-19, will handle.
“The only cost we are going to incur is delivering the vaccines from airport to nearby states, clearly that cannot be N10 billion,” he said.
“This cannot be even close to a billion.”
Nigeria on Tuesday took delivery of nearly four million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine as part of an overall 16 million doses planned to be delivered to the country in batches over the next few months. The vaccines are being provided by COVAX, a global effort to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.
Upon arrival, samples were handed to the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration Control (NAFDAC) for further examination. It was later certified to be safe and effective for use.
Nigeria on Friday commenced the COVID-19 vaccination, beginning with healthcare workers who are often at the risk of exposure to infections being the first responders to patients.
Cyprian Ngong, a medical doctor, became the first person to receive a jab of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines in Nigeria. Three other health workers were also vaccinated during the flag-off event at the National Hospital in Abuja.
Messrs Buhari and Osinbajo on Saturday received jabs of the COVID-19 vaccines at the State House, Abuja, to further drive vaccine acceptance.
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