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FG places order for 10m COVID-19 vaccine doses

By Idowu Abdullahi

In a bid to meet targeted vaccination of Nigerians across the country, the Federal Government has disclosed that it has placed an order for no fewer than 10 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines in line with its health emergency response aimed at fighting the deadly respiratory disease.

This is coming as the apex government revealed that the 100, 000 doses earlier scheduled to be received in January by the country was no longer feasible, adding that the doses Nigeria was expecting would now get delivered in the early weeks of February.

The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said that the placed orders were among options being explored by Nigeria to secure safe and efficacious vaccines to meet the country’s target of covering at least 70% of her population within two years.

Speaking on Monday during the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 briefing in Abuja, hinted that Nigeria was already negotiating with many parties and planning for flawless execution using recent experience from polio eradication, in the face of a global scramble for vaccines.

“Apart from the 100,000 doses allocated as first wave to Nigeria by the COVAX facility, we also placed order for 10 million doses through the Africa Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT) of the Africa Union Commission, which has secured 270 million doses, with the $2billion backing by Africa Exim Bank for a “whole-of-Africa” approach of the Chairman of the African Union, President Ramaphosa of South Afica.

”The vaccine is expected to be rolled out as from late March or April. The quantity we order from AVATT will depend on our capacity to dispense them to avoid wastage as we have seen in some countries where vaccine management became a problem. The Federal Ministry of Health organized a National Covid-19 Vaccine Conference to prepare a roadmap for Nigeria’s access to Covid-19 vaccine and review our vaccination strategy.

”Reports and updates were received from NPHCDA, the agency responsible for vaccine administration, NAFDAC responsible for medicine regulation and also from our research institutions. Nigeria has an indigenous vaccine candidate, which will require considerable investment to get through trials. We shall seek sponsorship to take the initiative further.

”The vaccine conference also reviewed the value chain from acquisition, logistics of storage, distribution and dispensing to try to zero in on preferred vaccines”, Ehanire said.

On his part, the Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency NPHCDA, Dr Faisal Shuaib, said that Nigeria was set to receive the first batch of the Pfizer/BioNTech mRNA vaccine by February 2021.

According to him, information reaching us from the COVAX facility is that due to manufacturing and supply issues being encountered, the expected date of arrival of the first 100,000 doses of the mRNA vaccine will now be in February and not in January, as earlier communicated.

”In the spirit of transparency, we would like you to join us at the airport to receive the vaccines when the time comes. Let me reiterate the fact that at the National Strategic Cold Store (NSCS), we have three (3) Ultra-Cold Chain (UCC) freezers, which have the capacity to store over 400,000 doses of Pfizer/BioNTech mRNA vaccines at a temperature of -60 to -80 degrees centigrade.

”We also have Walk in freezer rooms that can store vaccines at -25 to -15 degree centigrade. The mRNA vaccines can be stored at +2 to +8 degree centigrade at the health facility level for 5 days. And through our routine immunization system, we have supported the states in the past with Solar Direct Drive (SDD) cold chain equipment.

”By the end of 2021, all the political wards in Nigeria will have one functional cold chain equipment per ward to ensure potency of the vaccine, even if there is no electricity supply. We have enough storage capacity at national, zonal, state, LGA, ward and health facility levels. Gentlemen of the Press, this is enough reason for you to be assured of our preparedness to store the vaccine.

”The Pfizer/BioNTech mRNA vaccines are universally the same and the mRNA vaccine was the first to receive Emergency Use Authorization by the World Health Organization (WHO) and is reported to have 95% efficacy. Moreover, it is made accessible globally through the COVAX facility. It is for the reason of availability, coupled with its 95% efficacy rate that it is the first batch of vaccines that Nigeria will access through the COVAX facility.

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