UN pledges support for Nigeria’s vaccination campaign


By Bola Olajuwon, Assistant Editor

The United Nations (UN) Country Team has reiterated its commitment to support Nigeria’s vaccination campaign and help contain the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.

UN Resident Coordinator in Nigeria Edward Kallon; Managing Director for Country Programmes at Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance Thabani Maphosa; World Health Organisation (WHO) Representative in Nigeria Dr. Walter Kazadi Mulombo and UNICEF Nigeria Country Representative Peter Hawkins, stated this Tuesday in a statement as Nigeria received nearly 4 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, shipped via the COVAX Facility.

COVAX is a partnership between Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

According to Kallon, “The arrival of these vaccines in Abuja Tuesday 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.”

The statement said the arrival marked a historic step towards the goal to ensure equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines globally, in what will be the largest vaccine procurement and supply operation in history.

The delivery, it added, is part of the first wave of arrivals in Nigeria that would continue in the coming days and weeks.

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.

To Maphosa, “This is a landmark moment for the country and the COVAX Facility’s mission to help end the acute phase of the pandemic by enabling equitable access to these vaccines across the world. 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.

“Gavi looks forward to these vaccines being made available to the people most at risk, as soon as possible, and to ensuring that routine immunization services for other life-threatening infections are also delivered to avoid other disease outbreaks.”

Also, Mulombo said: “It is heart-warming to witness this epoch-making event and WHO wishes to congratulate the government of Nigeria for its participation in the global vaccine collaboration (COVAX) efforts and its commitment to protecting Nigerians against this pandemic. Vaccines are a critical new tool in the battle against COVID-19; therefore, this is a step in the right direction. These vaccines have undergone rigorous regulatory processes at 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. With more than 150,000 Nigerians infected with the virus and over 1,800 lives lost, the path to recovery for the people of Nigeria can finally begin.

“This is a very significant occasion – 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,” said Hawkins.

The COVAX Facility is expected to deliver around 90 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to the African Region in the first quarter of 2021 and has committed to providing up to 600 million doses to the region by end-2021 to cover 20 per cent of the population.

The COVAX Facility thanks the governments, foundation and other donors who contributed to making this milestone happen – including the generous support of the European Commission, countries of the European Union, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States. For a full list of donors, please see here.

For several months, COVAX partners have been supporting governments and partners in readiness efforts, in preparation for this moment.

They have been especially active in working with some of the world’s poorest countries: those that will benefit from the Advance Market Commitment (AMC), an innovative financial mechanism to help secure global and equitable access for COVID-19 vaccines. This includes assisting with the development of national vaccination plans, support for cold chain infrastructure, as well as stockpiling of half a billion syringes and safety boxes for their disposal, masks, gloves and other equipment to ensure that there is enough equipment for health workers to start vaccinating priority groups as soon as possible.

COVAX is co-led by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the WHO and CEPI, working in partnership with UNICEF, the World Bank, civil society organisations, manufacturers, and others. COVAX is part of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, a ground-breaking global collaboration to accelerate development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines.

COVAX has built a diverse portfolio of vaccines suitable for a range of settings and populations, and is on track to meet its goal of delivering at least 2 billion doses of vaccine to participating countries around the globe in 2021, including at least 1.3 billion donor-funded doses to the 92 lower-income COVAX Facility participants supported by the Gavi COVAX AMC.


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