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We’ll Start Delivering COVID-19 Vaccines In February, WHO Vows

 

The World Health Organisation says it aims to start deliveries of COVID-19 vaccines in February.

The Director-General of WHO, Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, made this known on Monday in his opening remarks at the 148th session of the agency’s regional executive board.

“We’ve secured two billion doses from five producers, with options on more than one billion more doses, and we aim to start deliveries in February.

“COVAX is ready to deliver what it was created for,” the DG said in his speech.

COVAX is the vaccines pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator.

The ACT Accelerator is a ground-breaking global collaboration to accelerate the development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines.

COVAX is co-led by Gavi, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and WHO.

Its aim is to accelerate the development and manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines, and to guarantee fair and equitable access for every country in the world.

In his Monday speech, which was delivered virtually from the WHO headquarters in Geneva, Dr. Ghebreyesus lamented that though vaccines bring hope to some, they become another brick in the wall of inequality between the world’s haves and have-nots.

“40 years ago, a new virus emerged and sparked a pandemic. Life-saving medicines were developed, but more than a decade passed before the world’s poor got access to them.

“12 years ago, a new virus emerged and sparked a pandemic. Life saving vaccines were developed, but by the time the world’s poor got access, the pandemic was over.

“One year ago, a new virus emerged and sparked a pandemic. Life-saving vaccines have been developed. What happens next is up to us

“We have an opportunity to beat history; to write a different story; to avoid the mistakes of the HIV and H1N1 pandemics,” the WHO chief stated.

Meanwhile, the Federal Government of Nigeria has promised to make the COVID-19 vaccine available in the country by the first quarter of the year.

The National Primary Health Care Development Agency says Nigeria hopes to get 42 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine soon to cover one fifth of its population.

The Executive Director, NPHCDA, Dr. Faisal Shuaib, disclosed this recently at the Presidential Task Force briefing on COVID-19 in Abuja.

Shuaib said that the vaccine would be got through the global COVAX scheme.

He said that the initial doses would come as part of Nigeria’s plan to inoculate 40 per cent of the population in 2021.

Sometime last week, the Indian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Abhay Thakur, has said that the government of Indian was ready to supply its COVID-19 vaccines to Nigeria after it is rolled out next week.

Thakur disclosed this in Abuja at the commemoration of the 16 Pravasi Bhartiya Divas convention, also known as the Indian Diaspora Day.

He said the vaccines would be made available on concessional terms after completing all the necessary registration requirements with the Nigerian regulatory authorities.

“We will be rolling out next week as the vaccines are already announced, so we will be quite keen to be applying for the necessary registrations, with the regulatory authorities of Nigeria.

“And we will be very happy to supply, on either concessional terms or any other needs that may be projected by the government of Nigeria.”

This is even as the National Primary Health Care Development Agency says government is targeting administering the COVID-19 vaccine on 40 percent of Nigerians during the first batch this year, pointing out that 30 per cent were expected to be vaccinated in 2022.

The agency also said the Federal Government was also sourcing for vaccines from other countries like Russia.

Again, a fortnight ago, the Federal Government said it had opened talks with the Peoples Republic of China to have access to COVID-19 vaccines for Nigeria.

Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffery Onyeama, disclosed this in Abuja while briefing newsmen shortly after a bilateral meeting with the Chinese Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, who was in Nigeria on a working visit.

It was, however, reported that delivery of COVID-19 vaccines may suffer delay following the failure of the Federal Ministry of Health to write the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration for approval, PUNCH HealthWise has learnt.

A director at the health ministry confirmed this to one of our correspondents on Saturday.

The Executive Director, Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr Faisal Shuaib, had said on January 5, 2021, that 100,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine would arrive in Nigeria by the end of January, which is now two weeks away.

However, a director at the health ministry who wished to remain anonymous said ideally, a letter of approval ought to have been sent to NAFDAC by now in order to get an approval.

He said without the NAFDAC approval, the vaccines would not be cleared at the port of entry.

The director said, “NAFDAC ought to have been notified the moment the vaccines were purchased. This is the standard practice when importing drugs that have never been used in Nigeria. That way, NAFDAC would have set things in motion so that once the drugs arrive, there will be no delay and customs would allow things to move.

“Ideally, NAFDAC will need to review many things before giving approval. They will need to set up an expert committee that will review and advise them. The ministry ought to have written NAFDAC by now.

Unless otherwise stated, the National Primary Health Care Development Agency has announced a distribution plan for the COVID-19 vaccine in the country, saying that the rate of infection in each state was the criterion used in the proposed distribution.

The News Agency of Nigeria quotes NPHCDA as saying that, based on the rate on infection in the states, the distribution list of the COVID-19 vaccine indicated that Kano State will receive 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; Zamfara, 1,336; Delta, 1,306;

Others are: Kebbi, 1,268; Imo, 1,267; Ondo, 1,228; Akwa Ibom, 1,161.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; Nasarawa, 661.

 

PUNCH

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