Nigeria will receive at least 100,000 doses of the Pfizer and BioNTech approved COVID-19 vaccines by the end of January.
The Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Faisal Shuaib, made this known at the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 briefing on Tuesday.
He said a letter announcing this allocation in the first phase of the delivery of the vaccines is expected from the COVAX facility during the week.
“In the first phase through the COVAX facility, we expect to receive approximately 100,000 doses of the Pfizer and bioNtech vaccine by the end of January,” he said.
Mr Shuaib noted the country is expecting free 42 million doses of vaccines in the second phase through the COVAX facility, an initiative run by the vaccine alliance, GAVI, to ensure equitable access to a COVID vaccine.
He said the second phase will be “a combination of all the available approved vaccines currently in the market.” These vaccines will, however, cover only about 20 per cent of Nigeria’s population, Mr Faisal said.
Nigeria has over 200 million persons as per population.
Amidst the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, many countries are already on the queue to access effective vaccines for its citizens.
The Nigerian government had earlier inaugurated an 18-member national COVID-19 task team to ensure ‘vaccine security’ when it finally gets to the country.
Despite these efforts on ground, global health experts and bodies recently told the media it is “almost impossible” for Nigeria to start a vaccine campaign in January.
Evidence on the ground at the country’s National Strategic Cold Store also suggest that Africa’s most populous country may not be fully ready to receive and administer the COVID-19 vaccine.
There are no ultra-cold freezers needed to store some of the frontrunners such as the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, according to Iyabo Daradara, Director, Logistics and Health Commodities at the NPHCDA.
Mr Shuaib explained that about 70 per cent of the total population needs to receive the COVID-19 vaccines to completely eradicate the virus.
He said only about 40 per cent will be vaccinated in 2021, while the remaining 30 per cent will be covered in 2022.
In line of the vaccination, the NPHCDA DG said priority will be given to frontliine health workers, first responders, strategic country leadership and those that are elderly and with co-morbidities.
Mr Shuaib also noted that there are some components on financing cost of additional vaccines and delivery to the country.
“The first is the cost of procuring the vaccines, the second is cost of delivering to every ward and the third is ensuring the PHCs and the health workers are available to deliver the vaccines safely and effectively,” he said.
He, however, said the PTF is “finalising the cumulative financial requirement for deploying vaccines”.
He said the “finalised figures will be made available soon”.