The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) says the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 is exploring other means to make vaccines available for at least 70% of Nigeria’s population.
The country is currently expecting its first 100,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech mRNA vaccine.
Speaking at the PTF national briefing on Monday, NPHCDA Executive Director, Dr. Faisal Shuaib, disclosed some of the sources from which Nigeria would be acquiring millions of vaccine doses.
“The fact is, to prevent further crippling of our health system due to the pandemic and to ensure rapid interruption of the COVID-19 transmission, the PTF is exploring other means to make additional COVID-19 vaccines available for at least 70% of our population,” he said.
“One of such ways is through the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT); an intervention of the African Union Commission, which is aimed at accelerating the financing and procurement of safe and efficacious COVID-19 vaccines. Nigeria will be accessing millions of doses of the recommended COVID-19 vaccines through this channel by April 2021.
“We are pleased to confirm that The African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT) has provisionally secured 270 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for the critical period from April – December 2021, which will be distributed through the Africa Medical Supplies Platform (AMSP).”
Shuaib said the date of arrival for Nigeria’s first batch of vaccines has been shifted from January to February due to manufacturing and supply issues.
“I am glad to inform you that we are set to receive the first batch of the Pfizer/BioNTech mRNA vaccine by February 2021,” the NPHCDA boss stated.
“Information reaching us from the COVAX facility is that due to manufacturing and supply issues being encountered, the expected date of arrival of the first 100,000 doses of the mRNA vaccine will now be in February and not in January, as earlier communicated. In the spirit of transparency, we would like you to join us at the airport to receive the vaccines when the time comes.
“For the benefit of those who could not join us for the facility tour last week, let me reiterate the fact that at the National Strategic Cold Store (NSCS), we have three (3) Ultra-Cold Chain (UCC) freezers, which have the capacity to store over 400,000 doses of Pfizer/BioNTech mRNA vaccines at a temperature of -60 to -80 degrees centigrade. We also have Walk in freezer rooms that can store vaccines at -25 to -15 degree centigrade.
“The mRNA vaccines can be stored at +2 to +8 degree centigrade at the health facility level for 5 days. And through our routine immunization system, we have supported the states in the past with Solar Direct Drive (SDD) cold chain equipment.
“By the end of 2021, all the political wards in Nigeria will have one functional cold chain equipment per ward to ensure potency of the vaccine, even if there is no electricity supply. We have enough storage capacity at national, zonal, state, LGA, ward and health facility levels. Gentlemen of the Press, this is enough reason for you to be assured of our preparedness to store the vaccine.”
He emphasised that health authorities have a moral responsibility to ensure that only vaccines approved by WHO, tested and certified by NAFDAC in Nigeria, are used.
Shaibu refuted false claims that there’s a vaccine specifically produced for Nigeria or Africa.
He described the talk of a vaccine for Africa only as one of the misinformation in the public and urged Nigerians not to amplify it.
“It is noteworthy that one of the challenges we currently face is the smear campaign against COVID-19 vaccine introduction in Nigeria by high profile political and religious stakeholders,” the NPHCDA chief stated.
“This has the tendency to confuse our people. Nigerians should be rest assured that the Federal Government under the leadership of His Excellency President Muhammadu Buhari, and the Honourable Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, has their best interest at heart and will give whatever it takes to ensure their total wellbeing. On our part, we will continue to provide you with factual information about COVID-19 vaccine and the vaccination process.
“We recognize that more work needs to be done to enlighten the public about the safety of the vaccine. As such, our ongoing efforts through our awareness creation and direct engagements with different stakeholders will continue.
“With your support, we are optimistic that most Nigerians will be empowered to make the right decision concerning their health and well-being. I am very confident that working together as patriotic Nigerians, we can defeat this virus.”