By Chidinma Chukwu, Abuja.
Nigeria will on Tuesday (2nd March 2021) receive about 4 million doses of Astrazeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
This was disclosed in a joint statement issued by the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), World Health Organiation (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF).
The delivery of the 3.92 million doses will mark the first arrival of COVID-19 vaccine in the country and make Nigeria the next West African country to benefit from the COVAX Facility after Ghana, and Cote d’Ivoire.
The delivery of the AstraZeneca vaccine is part of an overall 16 million doses planned to be delivered to Nigeria in batches over the next few months by the COVAX Facility, as part of an unprecedented global effort to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.
Recall Nigeria plans to vaccinate at least 70% of its eligible citizens aged 18 years and above in four phases within two years.
Executive Director/ CEO, NPHCDA, Dr. Faisal Shuaib, said the arrival of the vaccine will enable the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) to commence the vaccination of Nigerians in priority groups, starting with the frontline healthcare workers.
He also said the cold chain facilities to store the vaccines at levels are set.
“We are fully prepared to receive and deliver the vaccine to eligible Nigerians as we have commenced the training of health workers and ensured that cold chain facilities are ready at all levels. We have a robust cold chain system that can store all types of COVID-19 vaccine in accordance with the required temperature.
“We are therefore confident that we will have a very effective roll-out of the vaccine, starting with our critical healthcare workers, who are in the frontline in providing the care we all need” Dr Shuaib added.
The COVAX Facility is co-led by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), with UNICEF as a key implementing partner.
UNICEF Nigeria Country Representative, Peter Hawkins said The COVAX Facility, has worked exceptionally hard to ensure that Nigeria gets the vaccine as soon as possible so it can start its vaccination programme to the largest population in Africa.
Also WHO Representative in Nigeria Dr Walter Kazadi Mulombo, noted that Vaccines are a critical tool in the battle against COVID-19. He said Nigerians must continue to take steps to contain the virus, as the vaccination programme will take at least a year before it is fully effective.