From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Nigeria’s allocation of the first batch of about four million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from COVAX has touched down in Abuja.
COVAX is a global scheme to procure and distribute vaccine for free as the world races to contain the coronavirus pandemic.
The Emirates flight Boeing 777-300ER carrying the vaccines touched down at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport at about 11:36 am.
Nigeria is the third Weat African country to receive the vaccines after Ghana and Cote d’voire from the COVAX facility.
Recall the COVAX was launched in April 2020, to help ensure a fairer distribution of coronavirus vaccines between rich and poor nations, said it would deliver two billion doses to its members by the end of 2021.
The about four million (3.92 million doses) would be given to frontline workers, high profile Nigerians, support staff, strategic leaders among others.
The 3.92 million doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine was licensed by the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, the Serum Institute of India, were part of an initial tranche of deliveries headed to several low and middle-income countries, which Nigeria is part of.
The 3.92 million was also said to be part of the 16 million doses initially expected in the country.
Earlier, Dr Faisal Shuaib, Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), said: ‘We have been Informed that four million out of the 16 million doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines will arrive in the first batch of supplies to the country.
Shuaib also informed that the agency have established a national COVID-19 operations room to track planned activities at all levels and report on state of preparedness using a dash board to also identify and address gaps promptly.
According to him, an additional 500,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccines donated by telecom giant, MTN, will also be delivered to the country by the end of February.
Meanwhile, the chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF), on COVID-19 and also Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha said: ‘The PTF has been assured that Nigeria shall receive the initial four million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccines very soon and Nigerians will be adequately informed on developments.
‘The multisectoral machinery will be deployed to enhance the logistics to the ‘last-mile administration’ processes that have been put in place. This will involve community mobilization, training, transportation, storage, operations, among others. The real work involves every sub-national entities, the communities, the citizens, and the civil societies.’
Mustapha also said: ‘The issue of vaccines continues to dominate discussions and major policy and financial decisions by various countries of the world. As you are aware, NAFDAC in the course of the week granted emergency use authorization for the use of AstraZeneca vaccines in Nigeria. This decision was reached after due process by the regulatory body.’