By Abujah Racheal
The National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC), is presently studying the Russian Sputnik V and India’s Covax vaccines against COVID-19.
Dr Osage Ehanire, the Minister of Health disclosed after the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 national briefing on Monday in Abuja.
According to him, Nigeria has kept abreast of the global development of the COVID-19 vaccines and supports the call from the World Health Organisation (WHO) for a fair and equitable distribution of vaccines, since COVID-19 has become a threat to mankind.
“We subscribed to two multilateral vaccine access platforms; the first being the Covax facility that will supply vaccines free of charge to members, including Nigeria, to cover 20 per cent of our population.
“The expected first wave of 100,000 vaccines was to be derived from this facility. There has since been a change that now offers Nigeria 16 million vaccine doses in the first half of the year.
“The other multilateral platform is the African Union AVATT platform, the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team, chaired by the President of South Africa, Mr Ramaphosa.’’
According to him, AVATT has acquired 300 million doses of three types of vaccines which have been offered to African countries, based on population, such that no country is left behind.
“Nigeria subscribes to this `whole-of-Africa’ approach that strives to ensure that we are safe and our neighbours are safe.
“We shall be offered over 42 million doses by AVATT. If all the projected vaccines are supplied, we estimate we should have covered over 45 per cent of the population.
“Nigeria has had bilateral negotiations with Gamaleya of Russia over their Sputnik V vaccine, which they are willing to supply to Nigeria.
“This vaccine has an efficacy of 91 per cent. We are also in talks with the High Commissioner of India over the Covax vaccine of Barhat Institute. Both vaccines dossiers are under evaluation with NAFDAC,’’ he said.
According to the minister, the increase in oxygen availability began with the repair of two Oxygen plants at the National Hospital Abuja, through the Federal Government intervention and the commendable intervention of the Private Sector.
“This has ensured that large quantities of oxygen cylinders are delivered to treatment centres as needed.
“This has improved the availability of oxygen for the management of critical COVID-19 cases, as well as treatment of other illnesses that depend on oxygen supplementation such as asthma and pneumonia, he said.
While debunking the news that Nigeria was disqualified from vaccine allocation, Ehanire said: “ I must request viewers and readers here, to disregard the news over the weekend that Nigeria was ‘disqualified’ from a vaccine allocation.
“This is false. Nigeria has ultracold (minus 80oC) freezers in strategic stores in Lagos, Abuja and Bauchi, with space to hold over 400,000 doses of vaccines, more than the 320,000 doses WHO Afro had offered.
“Those vaccines had been reserved for countries with extremely high burdens, to which Nigeria did not belong.
“Nigeria has made elaborate plans and micro plans to roll out COVID-19 vaccination and address any gaps in financing an early rollout activity.
“The National Primary Health Care Development Agency is on top of this programme to deliver the vaccines in collaboration with state governments,’’ the health minister said.