By Abujah Racheal
The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, says the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines from Covax will arrive in Nigeria from February.
Ehanire made this known on Monday in Abuja at the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 national briefing.
The minister, who said Nigerians should expect the first roll out of the vaccines as from February, did not specify the date or time.
“According to latest information I have, we have been advised to expect the first COVID-19 vaccines from Covax to arrive in Nigeria as from February.
“We shall continue to review plans to ensure smooth roll out in our country,” Ehanire said.
He explained that the delay being experienced in receiving the first batch of COVID-19 vaccine was because manufacturers were yet to take decisions on when to deploy it to the country.
“The date of first arrival of vaccines in Nigeria has kept changing, because the decision lies with the manufacturer who already has heavy commitments,” the minister said.
Ehanire said that Nigeria had been allocated over 41 million doses by the AU’s African Vaccines Acquisition Task Team AVATT and was expecting 15 of about 41 million doses from COVAX.
“Altogether, it will give us coverage for over 50 per cent of our target for 2021, if we can access all doses promised,” he said.
The minister, therefore, reiterated the call by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for global equity in the allocation of vaccines, noting that COVID-19 was a threat to mankind, and not only to any country alone.
“Besides, the Director-General of WHO has repeatedly stated that no country is safe till all countries are safe.
“We have been keeping a strict eye on the vaccines scene and those who follow International news may have heard of the scramble for vaccines which has pitched some countries against each other in Europe, as wealthy high-income countries have pre-paid to allocate vaccines to themselves.
“A spokesperson for WHO estimated that 95 per cent of vaccines manufactured globally so far has gone to only 10 rich and powerful countries,” he said.
Ehanire said that the Ministry of Health’s Oxygen Strategy had been boosted by the addition of 38 proposed Oxygen plants, now in procurement processes.
He said that it would address COVID-19 treatment centres’ needs and the long neglected oxygen needs of the health sector in the post-COVID-19 era.
The minister said that the Global Fund was also on standby to assess existing oxygen plants for repair and reactivation in the short term.
Ehanire said that only two companies submitted the dossiers of their vaccines to NAFDAC till date for evaluation.