Nigeria is scheduled to receive 3.92 million doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine tomorrow, Tuesday March 2.
This was contained in a joint press statement issued yesterday by the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA); United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and World Health Organisation (WHO) in Abuja.
The delivery will mark the first arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine in the country and make Nigeria the next West African country to benefit from the COVAX Facility after Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire.
The arrival of the vaccine will enable the NPHCDA to commence the vaccination of Nigerians in priority groups, starting with the frontline healthcare workers.
The Executive Director and Chief Executive of the NPHCDA, Dr. Faisal Shuaib, said in the statement that the arrival of this vaccine is the result of the commitment of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government of Nigeria, the support of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 and the guidance of the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire.
He also said that the agency is fully prepared to receive and deliver the vaccine to eligible Nigerians, adding it has commenced the training of health workers and ensured that cold chain facilities are ready at all levels.
“We have a robust cold chain system that can store all types of COVID-19 vaccine in accordance with the required temperature. We are therefore confident that we will have a very effective roll-out of the vaccine, starting with our critical healthcare workers, who are in the frontline in providing the care we all need,” Shuaib added.
The UNICEF Nigeria Country Representative, Mr. Peter Hawkins, said that the delivery of the AstraZeneca vaccine is part of an overall 16 million doses planned to be delivered to Nigeria in batches over the next months by the COVAX Facility, towards global effort to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.
“The COVAX Facility is co-led by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), with UNICEF as a key implementing partner,” Hawkins said.
WHO’s Country Representative in Nigeria, Dr. Walter Kazadi Mulombo, said COVAX Facility, has worked exceptionally hard to ensure that Nigeria gets the vaccine as soon as possible so that it can start its vaccination programme to the largest population in Africa.
“Vaccines are a critical tool in the battle against COVID-19. In the meantime, Nigerians must continue to take steps to contain the virus, as the vaccination programme will take at least a year before it is fully effective,” he stated.