The Federal Government has disclosed that there have not been any approved coronavirus vaccines for Nigerians, saying efforts are still ongoing to clinically endorsed vaccines best suited for the country’s peculiarities.
It indicated that the delay being experienced to get a vaccine approved for the citizens was to ensure the right one was chosen by a team of experts studying available vaccines across the world.
The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, said that the country would be getting a befitting vaccine by the end of January 2021, adding that all hands are on deck to ensure the health of Nigerians are not jeopardized.
He noted that the technical working group in the ministry are currently doing their assessment on available vaccines and that their report would guide the choice of vaccines to be approved for Nigerians.
The minister noted that since the deadly respiratory disease has proven to be a fast killer, it was imperative for the government to observe critically what it would be approving for its citizens to mitigate preventable disasters.
Briefing newsmen on Wednesday shortly after the 28th Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting at the Council Chamber of the State House, Abuja presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Ehanire maintained the government was committed to ensuring the projected second wave of the virus was prevented in the country.
According to him, a technical working group is working on the question on vaccine and we have signed up with the World Health Organisation and Gavi for access to vaccines immediately they are available.
“But you know that these vaccines are new and are in packets and the producers are not given any indemnity. These countries where these vaccines are manufactured, have of course, given themselves the priority to serve themselves, serve their own citizens first and we hope that the pressure from the World Health Organisation and Gavi will be able to get reserves for other countries that are not manufacturing and they will be able to attend to what will be signed up to.
“We signed up for advanced market participation in Cobax. So, if we will be able to get our own, I think it will be in January. But there are two types of vaccines. There are those that have to be in ultra-deep freezers – the MRA type of vaccines. That is the freezer that must give you Minus 80 percent type of degree. There is another type that has to be in the deep freezer of Minus 20 degree which is a deep freezer and there is another type that can be in minus two-degree refrigerators. This is the regular refrigerator. The one that will be in regulator refrigerators is easy. We have them here.
“The one that will be in Minus 20 refrigerators is also going to be possible because we also have the freezers here but the one that will be in ultracold freezers, we hardly have ultra-cold freezers in this country and to receive and store in those ultra-cold freezers will require that you purchase the ultra-cold freezers. So, we are working on the cost.”
Furthermore, he clarified that the country would only request for the vaccines that it could afford and that it would also ensure the vaccines were sourced from the best manufacturers available.
“Remember that we have 200 million citizens. We need to have a way to be able to get enough to be able to take care of our citizens. So, that means we must be able to get the vaccines that work well, with a good cost of storage and cost of delivery. That is the one we will like to get as soon as they are available.
“We also had bilateral discussions with manufacturers. Some of them have written to us that they want to have discussions with us. One of them, as I speak to you, is already having a discussion with the Ministry of Health and the one that the British and Russia teams are putting together.
Continuing, he said, “We are working with them because if we cannot get enough from one source, we should be able to get from other sources. So, we are looking at multiple sources. We had a conversation with the United Arab Emirates.
”The ambassador came to see us and told us that they are buying vaccines from China and had tested them. So, they said they are introducing them to us. So, we said we would listen to them because the one that is effective and healthy in those countries and is available is the one we shall bring and that has also proven to be safe.”