Nigeria has received 3.94 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine through the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Assess Facility, COVAX.
This makes Nigeria the third Africa country to benefit from the COVAX facility after Ghana and Ivory Coast.
COVAX, an initiative co-led by the vaccine alliance, GAVI and the World Health Organisation (WHO), aims to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines by dividing about two billion doses across 92 low and middle-income countries.
The facility promises access to vaccines for up to 20 per cent of participating countries’ population with an initial supply beginning in the first quarter of the year to immunise three per cent of their populations.
The COVID-19 vaccines arrived at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International airport at about 11:45 a.m. on Tuesday through BOEING 777 300ER Emirate plane.
“The arrival of the Astra-Zeneca vaccines today, marks a significant milestone in the National Response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, said while receiving the vaccines.
“For over one year, humanity has remained under the siege of a virus that has impacted on lives, livelihood, destroyed economies, governance systems, medical services, socio-economic systems.”
The delivery of the AstraZeneca vaccines is part of an overall 16 million doses planned to be delivered to Nigeria in batches over the next weeks.
The vaccines are arriving the Africa continent one year after the index case was reported in Egypt. Over 3.9 million cases have been reported in the region and the death toll surpassed 100,000 barely two weeks ago.
Nigeria accounts for over 150,000 of these cases and over 1,900 deaths have been recorded, data from worldometers shows.
Nigeria, with a population of over 200 million aims to vaccinate approximately 109 million people against the COVID-19 virus over a period of two years.
Health authorities said only eligible population from 18 years and above, including pregnant women, will be vaccinated.
“The vaccines have not been proven to be safe for children,” the Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Faisal Shuaib said.
Nigerian authorities on Monday launched the ‘T• E• A• C• H• Strategy and Electronic Management of Immunization Data (EMID) to ensure smooth roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccines.
T.E.A.C.H. is an acronym for a five-point strategy developed by the vaccination implementing arm of the Federal Ministry of Health, the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, said while speaking at the launch in Abuja on Monday.
He said the strategy utilises all the benefits of traditional, electronic, assisted and concomitant house-to-house registration to optimise the use of innovative technology for a smooth rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination campaign.
An e-registration link has also been created to enable eligible Nigerians to register for the COVID-19 vaccination.
“To register for COVID-19 vaccination, visit our website nphcda.gov.ng and click on ‘COVID-19 Vaccination e-registration,” Mr Shuaib said at the launch.
He noted that the vaccine roll-out will be in four phases, starting with health workers, frontline workers, COVID-19 rapid response team, laboratory network, policemen, petrol station workers and strategic leaders.
The United Nations (UN) Resident Coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon, said the arrival of the vaccines marks a major milestone for the COVAX Facility.
“The arrival of these vaccines in Abuja today marks a milestone for the COVAX Facility in its unprecedented effort to deliver at least 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines globally by the end of 2021,” Mr Kallon said, in a statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES on Tuesday.
He reiterated the commitment of the UN Country Team in Nigeria to support the vaccination campaign and help contain the spread of the virus.
Mr Kallon noted that the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine will enable the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) to commence the vaccination of Nigerians in priority groups, starting with frontline healthcare workers.
Thabani Maphosa, the Managing Director for Country Programmes at Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, said the delivery of the vaccine is a landmark moment for the country to end the acute phase of the pandemic.
“We are glad to see Nigeria is amongst the first receiving the doses from COVAX, thanks to the excellent level of preparedness put in place by the Government of Nigeria,” Mr Maphosa said.
Similarly, the WHO Representative in Nigeria, Walter Mulombo, said the agency wishes to congratulate the government of Nigeria for its participation in COVAX efforts and its commitment to protecting Nigerians against this pandemic.
Mr Mulombo said these vaccines have undergone rigorous regulatory processes at the global and country-level and have been deemed safe and effective.
“After a year of disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, today, we celebrate the efforts being made in getting the vaccine to Nigeria, said Peter Hawkins, UNICEF Nigeria Country Representative.
Mr Hawkins said the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccines into Nigeria is critical in curbing the pandemic.
“The only way out of this crisis is to ensure that vaccinations are available to all,” he said.
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