FG: We Won’t Allow COVID-19 Vaccines’ Hijack

Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

The federal government has assured Nigerians that COVID-19 vaccines will not be hijacked or diverted by any group outside the distribution plan.
There has been growing concerns that politicians may hijack the COVID-19 vaccines, billed to arrive the country next month.

Recent announcement of the formula for the distribution of the expected 100,000 doses of vaccines has also sparked off apprehension amongst Nigerians over a possible hijack or diversion of the vaccines.

The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), however, said it is important to douse the anxiety amongst the people over how government will be deploying the initial few quantities of vaccines.
NPHCDA, at a webinar press briefing, had released the sharing formula for the 100,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

According to the data from NPHCDA, the agency gave the proposed distribution breakdown of the vaccines as: Kano, 3,557; Lagos, 3,131; Katsina, 2,361; Kaduna, 2,074; Bauchi, 1,900; Oyo, 1,848; Rivers, 1,766; Jigawa, 1,712; Niger, 1,558; Ogun, 1,473; Sokoto, 1,468; Benue, 1,423; Borno, 1,416; Anambra, 1,379; Kebbi, 1,268; Zamfara, 1,336; Delta, 1,306; Imo, 1,267; Ondo, 1,228; and Akwa Ibom, 1,161.

Others are Adamawa, 1,129; Edo, 1,104; Plateau, 1,089; Enugu, 1,088; Osun, 1,032; Kogi, 1,030; Cross River, 1,023; Abia, 955; Gombe, 908; Yobe, 842; Ekiti, 830; Taraba, 830; Kwara, 815; Ebonyi, 747; Bayelsa, 589; FCT, 695 and Nasarawa, 661.

The sharing formula has since generated concern amongst some state governments, which expressed dismay over the yardstick applied by the federal government in arriving at what they described as the unfair formula.

Also there are fears that vaccine distribution may soon be marred with similar controversy that trailed the federal government’s implementation of the job creation scheme for 774,000 unskilled youths.
However, the Executive Director of the NPHCDA, Dr. Faisal Shuaib, in a telephone interview with THISDAY yesterday, said the fears that the vaccines would be diverted by politicians are unfounded.

He said: “NPHCDA will be entrusted with the vaccines for all Nigerians. Any fear that the vaccines would be diverted by politicians is unfounded. We will prioritise our health workers, strategic country leadership, the elderly, those with other underlying health conditions.

“These are ideas probably brought about by the anxieties over how we will be deploying the initial few quantities of vaccines. However, we expect that after the first few doses of vaccines, we will get more vaccines subsequently.

“Over the next few months, vaccine production will pick up, more candidate vaccines will be approved, supply will improve and the cost of vaccines will eventually drop.”

The agency had explained during a sensitisation programme for the media in Abuja that the first batch of the vaccines would be administered to a select group of Nigerians, with 50,000 of them given two doses of the vaccine each within 21 days.

A technical working group for the vaccine is headed by Shuaib to coordinate the implementation of the vaccination in the country.
Shuaib had said any vaccine going to be deployed in Nigeria must be tested by NAFDAC and certified safe for human use before being administered.

He had also explained that the first set of vaccines expected in Nigeria by the end of February would be the Pfizer-developed vaccine.
According to him, the equipment that will be used to store the vaccines is located at the National Strategic Cold Store of the NPHCDA at Idu, along Airport Road in Abuja.

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