82 million Nigerians to be vaccinated this year

The Federal Government has revealed that about 82 million Nigerians will be vaccinated with the available and approved COVID-19 vaccines this year.

This figure represents 40 per cent of the Nigerian population, which is estimated to be 206 million.

It added that it expects 42 million doses of vaccines from the COVAX facility of the World Health Organisation (WHO). By the end of January this year, Nigeria will receive 100,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

It, however, noted that frontline health care workers, strategic leaders, and the vulnerable – the elderly and those with underlying illnesses – will be the priority targets to receive the vaccine this year. About 61 million Nigerians, representing 30 per cent of the entire population, will be targeted in 2020.

Executive Director and CEO of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) Dr. Faisal Shuaib stated these during the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 briefing in Abuja.

He cautioned Nigerians not to let their guards down in the hope of getting protection against COVID-19 through vaccination, saying it does not guarantee immediate cure.

He, however, advised that the citizens to keep relying on the efficacy of the range of non-pharmaceutical interventions earlier advised, including the use of facemask, avoiding crowded gatherings and constant practice of physical hygiene.

According to him, “As a result of the pandemic in the year 2020, many countries and economies invested heavily in developing candidate vaccines. The vaccines developed were from Pfizer, Modena and Oxford and AstraZeneca.

“The COVAX facility has 192 participating countries, including Nigeria. This platform is the mainstay of our expected access to safe and effective vaccines. The COVAX facility has in the portfolio the following approved vaccines – Pfizer BioNTech, Moderna and the Oxford-AstraZeneca, including hundreds of candidates vaccines still in development.

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“The African Union has also set up an African Vaccine Acquisition (AVAC) task team to provide an all-African approach to negotiation for more vaccines from developing countries and pharmaceutical companies. However, apart from the COVAX facility and the AVAC approach, Nigeria is also involved in multiple conversations with the governments of Russia, United Arab Emirates, and India, to access their candidate vaccines.

“Moving forward, any of these aforementioned that have not received certification for emergency use authorisation will be predicated on their transparently sharing results of their clinical trials and approval by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).”

Dr. Shuaib added: “Concerning the timeline for access to these vaccines, in the first phase, through the COVAX facility, we expect to receive approximately 100,000 doses of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine by the end of January. A letter announcing this allocation is being expected from the COVAX facility this week. In the second phase, also through the COVAX facility, Nigeria is expected to secure free delivery of 42 million doses of vaccines which will be a combination of all the available and approved vaccines currently in the market. This is expected to cover about 20 per cent of the population.”

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