By Onyebuchi Ezigbo and Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
The federal government has given assurances that the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines will arrive the country latest by the end of January.
National Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force on Control of COVID-19, Dr. Sani Aliyu told ARISE News, the broadcast arm of THISDAY Newspapers, yesterday that
there is a presidential directive to ensure that the vaccines are sourced as timely as possible.
“In terms of when it is going to be available in the country, there is a lot of work going on with National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) and the president directed the Presidential Task Force on Control of COVID-19 last two weeks to get involved in the nitty gritty of the efforts to ensure that the vaccines come in a timely manner.
“We expect the first batch of vaccines to come in possibly towards the end of January.
“The control of the pandemic will rely not only on full compliance of the non-pharmaceutical interventions but also the availability and acceptance of vaccination programmes.
“We cannot allow ourselves to become a pariah nation, we don’t really have a choice when it comes to vaccines, we have to vaccinate our public especially those that are vulnerable the elderly, those that are most likely to have severe illness and we will definitely not be left behind as a country,” Aliyu stated.
According to him, Nigeria cannot afford to be a pariah nation in the race to obtain vaccines, adding that a lot of work is ongoing with the National Primary Healthcare Development agency and the Global Vaccine Alliance Initiative (Gavi) with whom the federal government has signed an agreement for access to the vaccines.
With the vaccines, the federal government is targeting to vaccinate 20 per cent of the population in the first instance against the virus which has killed about 1,400 Nigerians and infected about 89,163 persons since the pandemic first hit the country in on February 27, 2020.
President Muhammadu Buhari had during the presentation of the end of the year report by PTF, tasked the body to coordinate the process for planning and strategy for the delivery and administration of the vaccines using the existing health structures that have worked in the past in vaccine administration.
A committee has already been set up by the government to select the vaccine most appropriate for the country from the existing vaccines against the virus considering that different temperatures are required to protect vaccines.
More than 85 million COVID-19 cases have been reported globally with the US, India and Brazil remaining the worst-hit countries in terms of the number of cases. Also Europe is in the grip of a devastating second wave of infections.