NIGERIAN health officials have now revealed that the long-awaited Covid-19 vaccine will arrive in the country in late March after an agreement has been reached to be supplied through the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (Avatt).
Medical experts have warned that Nigeria needs to set aside N540.4bn ($1.4bn) to purchase 218.m doses of the new coronavirus vaccine if the nation wants to combat the growing second wave of the pandemic currently sweeping across the globe. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Nigeria will require about $1.4bn to procure and distribute 218,400,000 doses of Covid-19 for double doses for 60% of its population.
Dr Faisal Shuaib, the chief executive of Nigeria’s National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), said that the government has finally decided to proceed with the AstraZeneca/Oxford product. Unlike Pfizer’s vaccine, which has to be kept at an extremely cold temperature of -70 degree Celsius, the Oxford vaccine can be stored in a normal fridge, making it better suited to Nigeria’s circumstances.
Health minister Dr Osagie Ehanire, said that the vaccine is expected to be rolled out from late March or April. He added that the quantity ordered from Avatt of the Africa Commission will depend on the country’s capacity to dispense them to avoid wastage.
According to the minister, the government is exploring all options to ensure the vaccination of 70% percent of Nigerians by 2023. He noted that apart from the 100,000 doses allocated as the first wave to Nigeria by the Covax facility, the government also placed orders for 10m doses through Avatt.
Dr Ehanire said: “We are negotiating with many parties and planning for flawless execution using recent experience from polio eradication in the face of a global scramble for vaccines. Nigeria has an indigenous vaccine candidate which will require considerable investment to get through trials, so we shall seek sponsorship to take the initiative further.”
African Union chairman President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, that the African Union has secured a provisional 270m vaccine doses through Avatt. Under the programme, the African Export-Import Bank will facilitate payments by providing advance procurement commitment guarantees of up to $2bn to the manufacturers on behalf of the continent’s member states.