By Chidinma Chukwu, Abuja.
World Health Organisation WHO said Nigeria will at the end of February receive 16 million doses of the Astrazeneca vaccine out of the 88 million vaccines allocated to Africa.
WHO country representative, Dr Walter Molumbo disclosed this at a joint press conference with the Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr Faisal Shuaib on Saturday in Abuja while reacting to the news making rounds of Nigeria’s exclusion from the lists of country to receive COVID-19 vaccines following the inability of the country to meet the standard requirement of being able to store the vaccines at the required 70 degree Celsius.
WHO said it has not disqualified any country in Africa from accessing the vaccines through the COVAX facility but it is supportive of all countries to access Vaccines as quickly as possible.
He said “Currently, all countries on the continent are expected to start accessing the Astrazeneca/Oxford vaccines by the end of February.
“The vaccine is under review by WHO for emergency use listing and the outcome is expected soon.
“Of the 88 million Astrazeneca doses allocated to African countries for the first phase, Nigeria has received by far the largest allocation, with 16 million doses
On Nigeria’s initial allocation of 100,000 doses of Pfizer vaccines, the WHO country representative said Nigeria is among the nine African countries considered ready but the snag to the availability of the Pfizer vaccine is owing to its supply.
“On the Africa continent, as of the 18 January deadline, COVAX received 13 submissions and a multi-agency committee evaluated the proposals of which nine were recommended as ready to deploy the Pfizer vaccine including Nigeria.
“Unfortunately, it was not feasible to provide each of these 51 countries with Pfizer doses, due to a number of factors including the limited capacity for Pfizer to handle many countries at once.Therefore, spreading the limited doses across all the 51 countries deemed ‘ready’ could have not achieve the intended public health benefit” He noted.
Also, the Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr Faisal Shuaib said considering the country’s population, 100,000 doses of Pfizer vaccines will be like a drop in the ocean.
He said 16 million doses of Astrazeneca vaccine will help Nigeria reach more of its population and is also suitable for the country’s cold chain equipments.
He assured that as COVID-19 vaccines supply improves there are many more to be considered for Nigeria.
“At this point, the 100,000 doses that was supposed to be brought initially has now been replaced with 16 million doses which will cover more people but we are also anticipating that as Pfizer vaccines supply improves, it will be one of the vaccines that we will consider, we still have large number of vaccines that we will have to get for Nigeria.
“We have also been allocated 41 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine by the African Union, part of that includes 7.6 million doses of Pfizer. So we are not closing the door of Pfizer”
Dr Faisal said health workers, the elderly, people with underlying diseases and strategic country leadership will be among the first set of people to receive the vaccine.