The Federal Government has blamed international politics and poor logistics for the delay experienced in the delivery of the first batch of 100,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech to be deployed against coronavirus in the country.
It indicated that contrary to claims from some quarters that the country was to blame for the delay, the issue was beyond the immediate control of President Muhammadu Buhari-led central government.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said that the country was not to blame for the delay as the distribution was subjected to politics at the international level and that efforts are being made to get the doses that are due to Nigeria.
Speaking with journalists in Abuja on Sunday, the minister hinted that the issue of the vaccine had been a priority to the government such that every needed infrastructure had been put in place for its storage.
According to him, the fact that these vaccines will now come in February is not due to Nigeria’s fault. We are very ready to receive the 100,00 doses and we have the infrastructure, even when it is going to be preserved at about -70 Degree Celsius.
The minister said that the ultra-cold freezers to store the Pfizer vaccine candidate doses upon their arrival in the country had already been acquired before the companies said it had to wait till February.
Mohammed, who is a member of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, clarified that the government had also approached the African Union (AU) and other international agencies for vaccines.
He assured that in the next two years, the government would be able to vaccinate about 70 percent of the population.
The minister underscored the need for a sustained advocacy campaign against the position of some people who had bad-mouthed the vaccines that it had a lot of resistance.
“We have to appeal to our traditional, religious, and political leaders to understand that as of today, there are no other silver bullets than the vaccines.
“They are the only option that can save humanity from the deadly virus and the elites must take the lead in this campaign. We must disabuse our minds from the campaign of naysayers that the vaccines are dangerous, it can cause impotency or meant to depopulate some parts of the world,’’ he said
Mohammed said that Nigeria would strive like other countries of the world to access enough vaccines for its people in defeating the deadly respiratory disease.
He said that the WHO had certified the vaccines to be safe and efficacious, therefore, the concern should be availability, affordability, and logistics for distribution.
He reiterated that the vaccines were the most effective and quickest way for the world to resume normal life of restraints and restrictions.
The minister said that the spike in the cases of COVID-19 and fatality was largely because Nigerians had refused to abide by the basic non-pharmaceutical intervention principles.
He said that Nigerians were not heeding the basic principles, including wearing facial masks, not gathering in places, keeping social distancing, washing hands regularly, and using hand sanitizers.
Mohammed said that while President Muhammadu Buhari had signed the COVID-19 Regulations, Nigerians must take personal responsibility for their safety.