By Bolaji Ogundele, Abuja
About 129 million doses of free COVID-19 vaccines are expected from two different sources, the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 pandemic has said.
The Chairman of the PTF and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, who made the disclosure at the weekend, said the vaccines are coming from COVID-19 Vaccines Global Assess Facility (COVAX) and the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT).
According to him, the first batch of the deliveries, which is four million doses, will arrive tomorrow.
According to him, the vaccine allocation being expected is at no financial cost to Nigeria, adding that Nigeria expects to receive a total of about 84 million doses from the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Assess Facility (COVAX).
The government had earlier said that the first four million doses of the vaccines would arrive by the end of February, but later said it might be first week in March.
Among the expected batches are the 16 million doses of vaccines through COVAX, a World Health Organisation (WHO)-backed programme, set-up to divide about two billion doses of vaccines across 92 low-and middle-income countries.
Well, I can assure you that the vaccines are coming, and they are coming very quickly, barring any change in the delivery plan that has been released to us by UNICEF, like I said, barring any change, because the logistical arrangements and other things are in the hands of the UNICEF, we believe that the vaccines should depart India tonight, March 1, and arrive Abuja tomorrow morning. So we are making preparation for that.
But the truth about it is that as we received the vaccines, this one is coming from the corporate facility. About four million doses of vaccines are coming from the corporate facility on this one tree.
“We’re supposed to have about 16 million in the first quarter from the COVAX facility, by the time they supply all the range we expect that they will supply about 84 million doses from the COVAX facility free of charge, and is supposed to cover about 20 percent of the Nigerian population.
We also have another source of vaccines coming in from the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT) facility. We expect about 41 million of that a combination of AstraZeneca and Johnson and Johnson.
“Everything we are expecting from the COVAX facility, I believe is going to be the AstraZeneca, which has a good range in terms of storage for us because it uses just plus two, two plus 8 per cent of refrigeration. It doesn’t come with a new complication.
We already have cold chain available in virtually all the local governments or constituency and wards in this country. I believe we are well prepared to receive our vaccines. And I hope that they keep to this timeframe that they have given us and we are eagerly expecting the vaccines”, he said.
The SGF, however cautioned Nigerians that the vaccine is not an excuse to jettison the non-pharmaceutical interventions put in place by the PTF.
I must caution Nigerians that it is going to be a combination of vaccines with the non-pharmaceutical measures and the non-pharmaceutical measures will remain in place, the wearing of masks the keeping of social distancing, the need for personal hygiene and taking responsibility to ensure that we do not congregate in large gatherings and avoid travels if it is not necessary”, he said.