When the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, announced last week that the COVID-19 vaccines would arrive Nigeria before the end of February, several Nigerians were hopeful that there was light at the end of the tunnel. But it appears their hopes may be dashed, due to the latest news from the World Health Organisation (WHO).
During a virtual press conference hosted by the global health body and shared on its Twitter handle, Nigeria was not shortlisted for the Pfizer vaccines by the WHO-led COVAX global initiative. This may be due to an allegation that the continent’s largest economy is unable to meet the standard requirement of being able to store the vaccines at the required 70 degrees Celsius.
At the event, Director, WHO, African Region, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, clearly stated that only four African countries were shortlisted for the Pfizer vaccine out of the 13 that applied.
To access an initial limited volume of Pfizer vaccine, countries were invited to submit proposals. 13 African countries submitted proposals and were evaluated by a multi-agency committee based on current mortality rates, new cases and trends, and the capacity to handle the ultra-cold chain needs of the vaccine.
She said, “In addition, around 320,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine have been allocated to four African countries: Cabo Verde, Rwanda, South Africa & Tunisia. Deliveries are also expected later in February.”
"In addition, around 320,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine have been allocated to four African countries: Cabo Verde, Rwanda, South Africa & Tunisia. Deliveries are also expected later in February." – Dr @MoetiTshidi #COVID19 #Africa
— WHO African Region (@WHOAFRO) February 4, 2021
Moeti emphasised that WHO could not risk the Pfizer vaccines being wasted. According to her, the vaccine has received WHO Emergency Use Listing but requires countries to be able to store and distribute doses at minus 70 degrees Celsius.
“This announcement allows countries to fine-tune their planning for COVID-19 immunisation campaigns. We urge African nations to ramp up readiness and finalise their national vaccine deployment plans. Regulatory processes, cold chain systems and distribution plans need to be in place to ensure vaccines are safely expedited from ports of entry to delivery. We can’t afford to waste a single dose,” she added.
But is there hope?
Nigeria was expected to be on the list of African countries to receive the first set of Pfizer vaccines because of its rate of infection, but with the WHO announcement, the nation will need to wait longer.
While Morocco, and Egypt have already independently obtained vaccines and begun distribution, South Africa, has already procured one million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, produced in India.
However, Nigeria has not received any COVID-19 vaccine and its rate of infection has continued to surge. If the nation does not get the vaccines in February, the atmosphere could be more tensed, with the increasing cases witnessed in the country.
On the brighter side, it appears that there is hope for Nigeria, as there is an Oxford-AstraZeneca option to explore.
Moeti added that countries that failed to make the Pfizer list could get the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine later in the month, although it has not yet been endorsed by the health organisation.
But do we have the storage facilities for this? Findings revealed that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine does not need to be stored in a cold facility.
“Nearly 90 million of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine could start arriving on the continent later this month. This is subject to the WHO listing the vaccine for emergency use. The review is ongoing and its outcome is expected very soon,” she said.
What you should know
- To complement COVAX efforts, the African Union has secured 670 million vaccine doses for the continent which will be distributed in 2021 and 2022 as countries secure adequate financing.
- The African Export-Import Bank will facilitate payments by providing advance procurement commitment guarantees of up to $2 billion to the manufacturers on behalf of countries.
- Last Monday, Nairametrics had reported when Ehanire announced that Nigeria would take delivery of 15 million vaccines from COVAX in February.
- Though the minister did not specify the date or time, he disclosed that the government had been advised to expect the first batch of the vaccines from February.
- He said, “According to latest information I have, we have been advised to expect the first COVID-19 vaccines from Covax to arrive in Nigeria as from February. We shall continue to review plans to ensure smooth roll out in our country.”
Covid-19: Nigeria’s COVAX supplies on its way soon – Okonjo-Iweala
Dr. Okonjo-Iweala has stated that Nigeria’s COVAX vaccine supplies are on the way.
The Director-General of the World Trade Organisation and former Nigerian Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has revealed that Nigeria’s COVAX vaccine supplies will soon be on the way while stating that the WTO must be part of the process for transparent vaccines delivery.
The WTO boss disclosed this in a social media statement on Wednesday evening, where she expressed joy that Ghana had received 600,000 COVAX vaccines.
She said, “Very happy to see first delivery of #COVAX supported vaccines to Ghana… Excited to see more countries following. Nigeria’s supplies should be on its way soon.
“No trade restrictions or bureaucracy should get in the way. The WTO must be part of the solution.”
What you should know
- Nairametrics reported that Ghana had received the first shipment of Covid-19 vaccines from COVAX, a global scheme to procure and distribute inoculations for free, as the world races to contain the pandemic.
- “The 600,000 doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine licensed by the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, the Serum Institute of India, are part of an initial tranche of deliveries headed to several low and middle-income countries,” the WHO said.
COVID-19 Update in Nigeria
On the 24th of February 2021, 655 new confirmed cases and 11 deaths were recorded in Nigeria
The spread of novel Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) in Nigeria continues to record significant increases as the latest statistics provided by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control reveal Nigeria now has 153,842 confirmed cases.
On the 24th of February 2021, 655 new confirmed cases and 11 deaths were recorded in Nigeria.
To date, 153,842 cases have been confirmed, 130,818 cases have been discharged and 1,885 deaths have been recorded in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory. A total of 1.49 million tests have been carried out as of February 24th, 2021 compared to 1.44 million tests a day earlier.
COVID-19 Case Updates- 24th February 2021,
- Total Number of Cases – 153,842
- Total Number Discharged – 130,818
- Total Deaths – 1,885
- Total Tests Carried out – 1,489,103
According to the NCDC, the 655 new cases are reported from 21 states- Lagos (240), Ogun (88), Rivers (56), FCT (51), Kaduna (43), Kano (25), Plateau (21), Taraba (19), Edo (17), Abia (15), Delta (13), Nasarawa (11), Akwa Ibom (10), Kwara (10), Oyo (10), Kebbi (9), Borno (5), Bayelsa (4), Gombe (4), Ekiti (2), and Osun (2).
Meanwhile, the latest numbers bring Lagos state total confirmed cases to 55,122, followed by Abuja (19,115), Plateau (8,854), Kaduna (8,422), Oyo (6,708), Rivers (6,398), Edo (4,491), Ogun (4,277), Kano (3,716), Ondo (2,944), Kwara (2,875), Delta (2,539), Osun (2,326), Nasarawa (2,208), Gombe (2,031), Katsina (2,029), Enugu (1,998), Ebonyi (1,839), Anambra (1,615), and Abia (1,487).
Imo State has recorded 1,440 cases, Akwa Ibom (1,439), Borno (1,247), Bauchi (1,221), Benue (1,188), Niger (912), Ekiti (797), Sokoto (768), Bayelsa (767), Adamawa (762), Taraba (712), Jigawa (496), Kebbi (358), Yobe (268), Cross River (267), Zamfara (219), while Kogi state has recorded 5 cases only.
Lock Down and Curfew
In a move to combat the spread of the pandemic disease, President Muhammadu Buhari directed the cessation of all movements in Lagos and the FCT for an initial period of 14 days, which took effect from 11 pm on Monday, 30th March 2020.
The movement restriction, which was extended by another two weeks period, has been partially put on hold with some businesses commencing operations from May 4. On April 27th, 2020, Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari declared an overnight curfew from 8 pm to 6 am across the country, as part of new measures to contain the spread of the COVID-19. This comes along with the phased and gradual easing of lockdown measures in FCT, Lagos, and Ogun States, which took effect from Saturday, 2nd May 2020, at 9 am.
On Monday, 29th June 2020 the federal government extended the second phase of the eased lockdown by 4 weeks and approved interstate movement outside curfew hours with effect from July 1, 2020. Also, on Monday 27th July 2020, the federal government extended the second phase of eased lockdown by an additional one week.
On Thursday, 6th August 2020 the federal government through the secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 announced the extension of the second phase of eased lockdown by another four (4) weeks.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State announced the closed down of the Eti-Osa Isolation Centre, with effect from Friday, 31st July 2020. He also mentioned that the Agidingbi Isolation Centre would also be closed and the patients relocated to a large capacity centre.
Due to the increased number of covid-19 cases in Nigeria, the Nigerian government ordered the reopening of Isolation and treatment centres in the country on Thursday, 10th December 2020.
On 26th January 2021, the Federal Government announced the extension of the guidelines of phase 3 of the eased lockdown by one month following the rising cases of the coronavirus disease in the country and the expiration of phase 3 of the eased lockdown.
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