Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, has condemned the current method of global distribution of vaccines against the rampaging coronavirus pandemic.
He said the world cannot afford the situation “where a handful of countries keep the global vaccine supply to themselves at the expense of other nations.”
Mr Buhari stated this in his broadcast to Nigerians on Friday as part of activities to mark the nation’s 61st independence anniversary.
He said he had shared the same message to the global community during his presentation at the United Nations assembly in New York, last week.
He said: “We must act now to accelerate equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. This is the message I conveyed to the international community in New York last week.”
Nigeria’s journey against COVID-19
The President said, just like other nations of the world, since 2020 when the index case was recorded in the country, the pandemic has altered Nigeria’s recovery plans from economic recession earlier experienced.
“Our original priorities for 2020 were to continue stabilising our economy following the deep recession while restoring peace in areas confronted with security challenges. But the COVID-19 pandemic and its devastating impact on all nations meant we needed to shift gears and re-strategise,” he said.
The President, however, commended Nigerians for what he described as their united stand against the pandemic. He said such unity of purpose is required to confront all other challenges facing the country.
The President said: “Nigerians came together as one to fight against COVID-19. It is this attitude and by the special grace of God, we continue to survive the pandemic as a nation and indeed, provide leadership and example at regional and international levels.
“The doomsday scenario predicted for our country never came. Even as the Delta variant continues to spread, we have built the capacity we need to respond now and into the future.
“I will therefore appeal to Nigerians not to take COVID lightly, adhere to public health and social measures, put your mask on and get vaccinated. We can control this pandemic, but it requires effort on everybody’s part. The investments we made in response to COVID-19 will also serve our country to tackle any future disease outbreaks or pandemics.”
Nigeria’s vaccination campaign
The President said despite the global inequity in access to vaccines, Nigeria has continued to explore all available options to ensure free access to safe and effective vaccines in the country.
He pleaded with Nigerians to take get vaccinated and observe all necessary protocols in the fight against the pandemic.
“Some five million vaccine doses have been administered to Nigerians through efforts led by the National Primary Health Care Development Agency and we will continue to explore options for purchase or acquisition of vaccines such as through COVAX and the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust,” the President said.
He pledged the commitment of his administration to the provision of needed support for upgrade of facilities within the nation’s health sector.
Local vaccine production
The President said the ultimate ambition is to achieve local manufacturing of vaccines against similar diseases and pandemic in the future.
“As we push to source vaccines for our immediate needs, we shall invest more to support our pharmaceutical and research agencies to come up with ideas for locally developed vaccines. Should another pandemic arise in the future, Our question is simple; will Nigeria be ready?
“Accordingly, I have directed the Ministries of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Health, Education and Science and Technology to work with Nigerian and International pharmaceutical companies and research organisations to enhance Nigeria’s domestic pharmaceutical capacity.
“Already, the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority is raising a $200 million fund for this initiative that will complement the Central Bank of Nigeria’s ongoing N85 billion Healthcare Sector Research and Development Intervention Scheme to support local researchers in the development of vaccines and drugs to combat communicable and non-communicable diseases, including COVID-19.”
COVID-19 in Nigeria
Since 2020 when the index case was recorded in Nigeria, more than 2,000 Nigerian citizens have been claimed by the pandemic.
Similarly, the country has recorded 205,765 infections while a total of 193,617 Nigerians have been recovered and discharged nationwide.
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