February 25, 2021

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Nigeria to receive additional 1.4 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines

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Nigeria has been allocated an additional 1.4 million doses of the approved Oxford- AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines, health minister Osagie Ehanire said on Monday.

Nigeria is expected to receive an initial 16 million doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines through the Vaccines Global Assess Facility, COVAX, by the end of February.

Mr Ehanire last week said an additional 42 million doses of the same vaccine will be delivered to the country through the African Union’s African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT).

Mr Ehanire, while speaking at a briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, said the expected 1.4 million doses are part of 7 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccines donated to Africa by telecom giant, MTN.

He said of the 1.4 million, an initial 500,000 doses will be delivered to the country by the end of February.

“The Ministry of Health also engaged the Africa Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT), who informed us of the free allocation of 1.4 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccines, of which 500,000 doses are expected by the end of this month, courtesy of MTN donation of 7 million doses to Africa,” he said.

“The balance of 900,000 doses for Nigeria is expected by the end of March 2021.”

At the briefing last week, the minister said Nigeria subscribed to two multilateral vaccine access platforms; the first being the COVAX facility which was set-up to divide over a billion doses of vaccines across 92 low-and middle-income countries.

The COVAX facility promised access to vaccines for up to 20 per cent of participating countries’ population with an initial supply beginning in the first quarter of the year to immunise three per cent of their populations.

The second platform is the AVATT, which has acquired 300 million doses of three types of vaccines to distribute to African countries based on their population, according to Mr Ehanire.

Expecting vaccines

Mr Ehanire noted that efforts are ongoing to ensure the effective roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccines when they finally arrive.

He said a Vaccine Coordination Committee has been inaugurated to address diverse issues peculiar to COVID-19 vaccine acquisition by Nigeria.

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READ ALSO: Nigeria to receive additional 42 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines – Minister

“Their function is to advise on coordinating access to acquisition and distribution of vaccines when available, and on our immunization strategy.”

Mr Ehanire recently said the country is experiencing a delay in receiving the first batch of the AstraZeneca vaccines because the manufacturers are yet to decide on when to deploy the vaccines.

He, however, said Nigerians should expect the first roll-out of the vaccines this month.

Vaccines efficacy

The minister stated that the National Agency For Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has begun an evaluation of some dossiers of the approved COVID-19 vaccines and some of them are nearly ready for results.

“NAFDAC has received dossiers for some vaccines dossiers for Sputnik V vaccine of Russia, Astra Zeneca manufactured under license by Serum Institute of India, Covaxin by Bharat vaccines of India and the Sinopharm Vaccine of China, for evaluation and validation for use in Nigeria,” he said.

He noted that the country received 100,000 AstraZeneca doses from India as a gift to Nigeria.

Mr Ehanire explained that all COVID-19 vaccines carry a certain amount of risk and any vaccines not approved by the Federal Ministry of Health through its agencies such as NAFDAC cannot be used in Nigeria.

“The government will not be responsible for the safety or efficacy of vaccines given outside the framework of the government.

“All the needs of Nigeria have been carefully calculated by NPHCDA and it is possible to accommodate all interests in the framework,” he said.

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