NIGERIA has still not made any budgetary provision for the purchase of a Covid-19 vaccine despite plans to purchase about 218.m doses of the new coronavirus vaccine in a bid to combat the second wave of the virus.
With the second wave of the virus sweeping across the globe, Nigeria has been told she needs to set aside N540.4bn ($1.4bn) to purchase 218.m doses of a vaccine. Based on the World Health Organisation estimates, Nigeria needs to distribute 218,400,000 doses of the vaccine as it has to offer double doses to 60% of its population.
However, finance minister Zainab Ahmed, has warned that there is no provision in the 2021 budget to fund the acquisition of any vaccine. She explained, however, that the federal government is working on the type and quantity of vaccines to procure, while her ministry and the health ministry will meet to finalise an amount to be allocated to vaccine procurement within the next two weeks.
Late last year, lawmakers were told that they need to add N500bn ($1.3bn) to the 2021 budget to help cover the unanticipated costs associated with a vaccine. However, this was not done before the appropriation bill was passed and President Buhari has since signed it into law without any vaccine supplement.
Nigeria is expected to receive about 100,000 doses of the Pfizer and BioNTech approved Covid-19 vaccines by the end of January. In addition, the country, under phase two of its vaccination scheme, will get 42m extra doses of vaccines through the Covax facility.
For now, the federal government is aiming to vaccinate about 40% of Nigeria’s population during the course of 2021. Ms Ahmed expressed the commitment of the National Assembly to provide a supplementary budget for additional spending on the Covid-19 vaccines if needed.
Ms Ahmed said: “We agreed that efforts were needed so that we have clarity as to whether the provisions in the budget will be adequate or we have to make additional provisions by way of a special supplementary budget to make more provisions for Covid-19 vaccinations.”