The United Kingdom Government has disclosed that Nigeria has been shortlisted among one of the first countries to receive 16 million free doses of COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX Global Vaccines Facility by the Global Vaccine Alliance (GAVI).
It said that Gavi had shared the first forecasts of countries that would receive COVID-19 vaccines through COVAX’s Advance Market Commitment (AMC) and that Nigeria was shortlisted as one of the beneficiaries in the first tranches to be distributed.
The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing, said that the free doses would be received in the first half of this year for the country to vaccinate its citizens and protect them from the deadly disease.
Through a statement by the British High Commission Office on Tuesday, Laing said that COVAX has allocated over 330 million doses for low and lower-middle-income countries, including Nigeria.
“As one of the 92 ODA-eligible countries participating in the COVAX AMC initiative, Nigeria will benefit from this arrangement and access free vaccines to cover at least 20 percent of its population, and the UK is playing a supportive role in ensuring an effective and equitable introduction of COVID-19 vaccines,” the statement said.
The commissioner said that COVID-19 is a global pandemic that needed a global solution, added that the UK was at the forefront of tackling COVID-19 internationally and, so far had pledged up to 1.3 billion pounds from UK aid to end the coronavirus pandemic as quickly as possible.
She noted that the aid would be used in championing access to vaccines for all countries, particularly the world’s poorest and that UK was not alone in the efforts, adding that it was a collective effort with other international partners.
Liang said that in Nigeria, the UK was supporting an effective roll-out of the vaccines through engagement and technical assistance to the Ministry of Health and other relevant stakeholders.
“COVAX is a global initiative to support the development, manufacture, and fair distribution of COVID-19 vaccines for up to one billion people by the end of 2021.
“COVAX is an international alliance co-led by Gavi, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the World Health Organization, with participation from over 180 countries.
“The UK is one of the largest donors to the COVAX facility and has committed 548 million pounds to the AMC, a scheme that leverages the scale assured by the participation of higher-income economies so that the lower-income countries are able to participate and access COVID-19 vaccines, “ the statement added.
The commissioner also noted that UK was also one of the largest donors to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, which has spent the past two decades expanding and updating cold-chain infrastructure and strengthening routine immunisation in lower-income countries.
It said the UK was a member of the Technical Working Group (TWG) for the roll-out of the National Deployment and Vaccines Plan (NDVP), led by the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), and member of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 since it was established by President Muhammadu Buhari on March 9, 2020.
“This news on the COVAX global COVID-19 vaccine rollout brings us one step closer to delivering vaccines to millions of Nigerians.
“I am pleased that Nigeria will get millions of these free doses by the end of 2021. The UK is playing a global role in promoting an effective roll-out, including as one of the largest COVAX donors and through our engagement with the Nigerian-led response, “Laing said.