Some Nigerians, who took the first jab of the Oxford-astraZeneca coronavirus vaccines but are yet to take the mandatory second jab due to unavailability, may now heave a sigh of relief as Nigeria on Monday took delivery of 699,760 doses of the vaccines.
The vaccines, which were delivered through the COVAX facility, an initiative aimed at ensuring equitable distribution of vaccines globally, are part of the three million doses of vaccines donated to 11 African nations by the government of the United Kingdom.
The vaccines were on Tuesday unveiled by the Nigerian government at the country’s National Strategic Cold Store near the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.
The UK government had pledged to share 80 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines with COVAX, as part of a broader pledge to share 100 million doses with the rest of the world.
Speaking during the unveiling of the vaccines, the head of Nigeria’s immunisation agency, Faisal Shuaib, said the doses would be targeted at those due for the 2nd dose of the AstraZeneca vaccines earlier administered.
“I am glad to inform you that last night, we received 699,760 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine donated by the UK Government. We are most grateful to the government and people of the UK for this gesture.
“This vaccine will be deployed immediately to the states and would be administered as second doses to those who had earlier received only the first dose of the vaccine during the first phase of the vaccination roll-out,” he said.
He urged all persons, 18 years and above, due for the second dose of AstraZeneca vaccines to visit the vaccination centres and encourage friends and families to do the same to ensure full protection from the virus.
Mr Shuaib assured Nigerians that all vaccines certified by NAFDAC were highly effective against the virus, including the ravaging Delta variant.
Nigeria had commenced the first phase of COVID-19 vaccination on March 5, 2021, having received approximately four million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines from COVAX.
The first phase, however, ended abruptly following the exhaustion of the vaccines.
Only about 3.9 million eligible persons across 36 states and FCT, received their shots from the doses.
“2,534,205 people have been vaccinated for the first dose and 1,404,205 have received their second dose of the vaccine,” Mr Shuaib said.
UK official speaks
In her remarks, the Acting British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Gill Atkinson, said the vaccines were donated for the wellbeing of Nigerians.
She said the UK was one of the first countries to back COVAX with €548 million.
“We have consistently pushed for a global effort that helps every country receive the vaccine against COVID-19. I am so pleased to see Nigeria receive 699,760 doses, donated by the UK, in their second batch of the vaccine through COVAX.
“This is the first tranche of the 1,299,760 doses expected to be donated by the UK through COVAX. Only by vaccinating more people around the world can we bring an end to the global coronavirus pandemic,” Ms Atkinson said.
She said donating through COVAX helps increase vaccine coverage, ensure that no dose goes to waste and helps to bring an end to the phase of the pandemic.
Also speaking at the event, the World Health Organization (WHO) Country Representative in Nigeria, Walter Molumbo, said the donated vaccines are opening prospects to cover the eligible population towards achieving herd immunity.
READ ALSO: COVID-19: Nigeria to receive more Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine Monday, flags off second phase of vaccination
He also commended the government for putting efforts in place to make COVID-19 vaccination a reality as the country continues to fight the third wave of the pandemic.
“The contribution today of over 699,000 AstraZeneca vaccines is really a big relief for us, knowing that we had a number of Nigerians, who got their first shot, and were waiting for their second shot,” he said.
“The more we get people vaccinated, the better for us all, the vaccines that have been received by Nigeria so far, were all endorsed by the WHO, as safe and effective.”
Nigeria’s Vaccination campaign
Nigeria on Monday flagged-off the second phase of COVID-19 vaccination having received 4 million doses of Moderna vaccines from the government of the United States of America.
The country also received another 177,600 doses of Johnson and Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 vaccines from the African Union (AU).
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, at the flag-off, said the arrival of these vaccines prompted the second phase of the vaccination.
“The arrival of the 4,000,080 doses of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine donated by the Government of the United States and the 177,600 doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccines out of the 29,850,000 doses the Federal Government has purchased through the Africa-Import-Export Bank and the African Union, is highly encouraging and motivating for us at the Presidential Steering Committee,” he said.
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