February 25, 2021
By Bolaji Ogundele, Abuja
The Federal Government has said it would not be able to put a date on when the expected COVID-19 vaccines would be delivered to Nigeria.
Minister of Health Dr. Osagie Ehanire stated this while fielding questions from State House Correspondents yesterday after the week’s virtual Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, in the State House, Abuja.
The minister, who had earlier in his post-FEC briefing revealed that the two memoranda from his ministry were approved by council, explained that procurement of the vaccines would be by three sources, none of which is the Nigerian government.
The Presidential Task Force PTF on COVID-19 had given various expected delivery dates in the past, including end of February.
He explained that the country is expecting its supplies from COVAX facilitated by the World Health Organisation (WHO); the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) and African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT) set up by the African Union (AU).
This is apart from individuals, government and organisations making vaccine donations to the country.
According to him, the supply from the three sources should satisfy the need of the country without the government having to procure.
“Now, you can see that all of these are coming from various sources but put together, they almost satisfy our needs so that we don’t really need to go procure. But the question is, when are they delivering? That is not in our hands. It is the hand of the person who is bringing it to us.
“We have been told to open an account with Afreximbank under the African Union. We have done that already successfully because we are going to pay for that part of the vaccine. The COVAX vaccine is free, at no cost to us; it is made from donations.
“We want to immunise about 60 to 70% of our population. If COVAX immunises 20, then we have about 40 to 50 to immunise within the next two years.
“So, we have to pay for that minus any donations that we get like the MTN donation. For example, all those ones reduce the quantities that we have to purchase or any other that in future are given to us free of charge.
“Now, the COVAX will start delivering to African countries before the end of February. That’s what they told us. But they didn’t tell us which country is first or which is second, which is third.
“So, COVAX begins to deliver before the end of February. And we hope that before the end of this month, it would be our turn or latest by beginning of next month.”
On why the country had settled for the AstraZeneca vaccines, the aversion by the South African government notwithstanding, the minister explained that besides the fact that the strain of the COVID-19 found in South Africa does not exist here, the WHO had given Nigeria a pass on the product.
SOURCE: THE NATION