Preparations are on top gear as Nigerian states wait to administer the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID – 19 vaccines, which arrived Nigeria on Tuesday.
The country received 3.94 million doses of the vaccine through the Global Assess Facility (COVAX).
The COVAX is an initiative co-led by the Vaccine Alliance, GAVI and the World Health Organisation, which seeks to ensure equitable access to a COVID – 19 vaccines by dividing about two billion doses across 92 low-and middle-income countries.
With latest arrival of the vaccine, Nigeria now becomes the third African country to benefit from the COVAX facility after Ghana and Ivory Coast.
The Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines arrived the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja aboard the Boeing 777 300 ER aircraft of the Emirates Airline at 11.45am.
Boss Mustapha, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Chairman Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, who led the government team to receive the vaccine, said the arrival of the Astra-Zeneca vaccines, marked a significant milestone in the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria.
According to him, “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.
“The successful development of vaccines and the accelerated process for emergency authorisation has brought hope to humanity all over the world. Its arrival in Nigeria today has been made possible through purposeful leadership by President Muhammadu Buhari, in collaboration with domestic stakeholders and the international community to ensure that what we are offering Nigerians is safe.”
Mustapha made it clear that prior to the vaccines phase, government had introduced and promoted the non-pharmaceutical interventions, adding that they remained valid measures under the Infection Prevention and Control Policy.
“Although this consignment of vaccines is just 3.924 million doses of the expected 16 million doses of the vaccine from the COVAX Facility, we are grateful to the coalition that has made this possible for us to receive it.”
Dr Faisal Shuaib, the Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency, said eligible population from 18 years and above, including pregnant women, would be vaccinated.
Also Edward Kallon, the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Nigeria, said arrival of the vaccines marks a major milestone.
He said, “The arrival of these vaccines in Abuja marks a milestone for the COVAX facility in its unprecedented effort to deliver at least 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines globally by the end of 2021.”
He reiterated the commitment of the UN team in Nigeria to support the vaccination campaign and help contain the spread of the virus.
Thabani Maphosa, the Managing Director for Country Programmes at Gavi, said the organisation viewed the delivery of the vaccine is a landmark moment for the country to end the acute phase of the pandemic.
Walter Mulombo, the World Health Organisation Representative in Nigeria, congratulated Nigeria for its participation in COVAX efforts and its commitment to protecting Nigerians against this pandemic.
He said the vaccines had undergone rigorous regulatory processes at global and country-level and have been deemed safe and effective.
The UNICEF Nigeria Country Representative, Peter Hawkins, said, “The arrival of the COVID – 19 vaccines into Nigeria is critical in curbing the pandemic. The only way out of this crisis is to ensure that vaccinations are available to all.”