NIGERIA is set to receive its first batch of 4m doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine this Tuesday under the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Assess Facility (Covax) programme aimed at catering for the needs of poor countries.
Funded by the World Health Organisation (WHO), Covax was set-up to divide about 2bn doses of vaccines across 92 low-and middle-income countries. Boss Mustapha, the secretary to Nigeria’s federal government and the chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on Covid-19, said the first batch will arrive in the country on Tuesday, way ahead of its original schedule.
According to Mr Mustapha, the vaccine allocation being expected is at no financial cost to Nigeria, as it comes courtesy of the corporate Covax facility. Nigeria is also expecting 16m doses of the vaccine later on in the year as part of a mass vaccination programme aimed at bringing the process up to global standards.
Mr Mustapha said: “I can assure you that the vaccines are coming and they are coming very quickly, barring any change in the delivery plan that has been released to us by Unicef. Barring any changes because the logistical arrangements and other things are in the hands of Unicef, we believe that vaccines should depart India on March a at 10.30pm in the night and arrive Abuja on March 2 at about 11am in the morning, so we are making preparations for that.
“However, the truth about it is that as we received the vaccines, this one is coming from the corporate facility. About 4m doses of vaccines are coming from the corporate facility on this one tree.
“We’re supposed to have about 16m in the first quarter from the Covax facility and by the time they supply all the range we expect that they will supply about 84m doses, which is free of charge and is supposed to cover about 20% of the Nigerian population. We also have another source of vaccines coming in from the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team facility, so we expect a combination of about 41m from AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson.
“Everything we are expecting from the Covax facility, I believe is going to be the AstraZeneca, which has a good range in terms of storage for us because it uses just plus two, two plus 8% of refrigeration. It doesn’t come with a new complication.
“We already have that cold chain available in virtually all the local governments and constituencies and wards in this country, so I believe we are well prepared to receive our vaccines. I hope that they keep to this timeframe that they have given us and we are eagerly expecting vaccines.”