Nigeria is expecting four million out of the 16 million doses of AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccine, which was recently approved for emergency use by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the country’s National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) as part of the first batch of supplies to the country.The Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency NPHCDA, DR. Faisal Shuaib, said at the weekly media briefing of the Covid-19 Presidential Task Force, PTF in Abuja that NAFDAC would on arrival of the vaccines in the country, take samples for assessment before it is used for COVID-19 vaccination.
According to him, the purchase orders have been raised by UNICEF Supply Division for the AstraZeneca vaccine.
He explained that “under normal circumstances, with routine immunization vaccines, it takes two weeks from when the purchase order is raised to when we receive the vaccine in Nigeria. However, because this is an emergency situation, we have been informed by UNICEF that this process will be fast-tracked to potentially ensure that the vaccines arrive in Nigeria within one week.”
According to him, the vaccine, which will be arriving in batches of four million, will be kept at the National Strategic Cold Store, a requirement for the storage of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
”Permit me to reiterate our capacity to store and manage the vaccine. The cold chain requirement for the AstraZeneca vaccine is +2 °C to +8°C and this aligns with our cold chain equipment that facilitates our routine immunization and was used during the polio eradication journey. We were able to defeat the wild polioviruses, because we delivered potent vaccines to all Nigerians under 5 years of age.
Dr. Shuaib stated that leveraging on experiences from polio eradication, a National Covid-19 Operations room with membership from government and partners has been established.
”The Operations room will track 24/7 planned activities at national, state, and LGAs and report on the state of preparedness using a dashboard. This is with a view to identifying gaps and addressing them promptly. It entails holding people accountable for their actions or inactions,” he said.
He recalled that the Nigerian government has received multiple commitments for millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccines from the COVAX facility, the African Union, the Indian Government, MTN and the organized private sector through the CaCOVID arrangement.
Speaking on the awareness and sensitisation campaigns on the covid-19 virus and the vaccines, Dr. Shuaib said: ”In continuation of our awareness creation and sensitization efforts, we have in the past week met with the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), the Full Gospel Businessmen Fellowship (FGBF), the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) and Rotary International.
“The sensitization engagement was impressively successful in addressing concerns about COVID-19 vaccine and securing the stakeholders’ commitment to support the COVID-19 vaccination process,” he said.