Tuesday, March 2, 2021 9:46 pm
By Abujah Racheal
The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 has declared as safe and efficacious, AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, as Nigeria takes delivery of 3.92 doses of the vaccine.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation and the PTF Chairman, Mr Boss Mustapha, made the declaration in Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria(NAN) reports that Nigeria has received 3,9340,000 doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine from India.
The doses are the first tranche of the 16 million doses expected under COVAX Facility arrangement.
Speaking at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, the SGF said: “The arrival of the AstraZeneca vaccine today marks a significant milestone in the National Response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria.
“For over one year, humanity has remained under the siege of a virus that has impacted on lives, livelihood, destroyed economies, governance systems, medical services, socio-economic systems.
“Nations around the world have deployed enormous resources to tackle the virus which has seen a first wave and more virulent second wave.”
He noted that COVID-19 had claimed more than 2.5 million lives worldwide.
“The successful development of vaccines and the accelerated process for emergency authorisation has brought hope to humanity.
“Its arrival in Nigeria today has been made possible through purposeful leadership by His Excellency, the President, in collaboration with domestic stakeholders, the international community,” he said.
Mustapha said that there were painstaking technical efforts to ensure that Nigerians were being offered safe and efficacious vaccines.
“Prior to the vaccines phase, we had introduced and promoted Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions (NPIs),” he said.
Mustapha said that the NPIs remained valid measures under the Infection Prevention and Control Policy.
“I, therefore, urge all Nigerians to continue to comply with these measures even as we roll out vaccine administration plan which is expected to reach 70 per cent of our population between 2021 and 2022.
“Under the circumstances, it must continue to be NPIs plus vaccines.
“Although this consignment of vaccine is just 3.924 million doses of the expected 16 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from the COVAX Facility, we are indeed grateful to the coalition that has made this possible for us to receive it.
“Administration of the vaccine to the last mile will be prioritised in a strategically-planned manner to meet out peculiar needs, cover our heroic healthcare workers who have sacrificed their all, including their lives, in caring for the rest of us.”
He gave the assurance that the PTF, working with other relevant agencies, would ensure transparency, efficiency and economy under the process.
“It is, therefore, important to assure all Nigerians that their turns for receiving the jab will come.”
He urged traditional rulers, religious leaders, civil societies, the mass media and others to take to the grassroots and other segments of the society, the message on the significance of vaccination against COVID-19.
“This is a fight for everyone.”
Also speaking at the airport, the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said, “We must not forget our NPIs; citizens should come and be vaccinated when called upon.”
The Director-General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, Mrs Mojisola Adeyeye, said, “I am happy the vaccine is here.
“We will ensure the best vaccine is given to Nigerians. We will do our due checks and diligence before rolling out of vaccines.
Also, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Primary Health Care, Chukwuka Utazi, said the National Assembly would ensure that the vaccine would get to the most venerable first.
The U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard, said the U.S. had put two billion dollars into COVAX, adding that another two billion dollars would come.
“We are ready to do more. This is but a step in the success story; more will happen.
NAN reports that COVAX was launched in April 2020, to help ensure a fairer distribution of coronavirus vaccines between rich and poor nations.
It said it would deliver two billion doses to its members by the end of 2021.
NAN gathered that the United Nations Children’s Fund(UNICEF) would be organising the shipment from Mumbai, with the World Health Organization (WHO), both supporters of COVAX .
The 3.94 million doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine was licensed by the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, the Serum Institute of India.
The doses were part of an initial tranche of deliveries headed to several low and middle-income countries, including Nigeria.(NAN)