Osagie Ehanire, minister of health, says Nigeria may start taking delivery of its COVID-19 vaccine supply from March.
On Tuesday, Ghana became the first African country to receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine from COVAX.
Speaking on Wednesday after the federal executive council (FEC) meeting at the presidential villa, Ehanire said Nigeria is expecting the COVID-19 vaccines from three donor sources, which should satisfy the need of the country without having to procure more.
He said the country is expecting supplies from COVAX facilitated by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) and African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT) set up by the African Union.
“Now, you can see that all of these are coming from various sources but put together, they almost satisfy our needs so that we don’t really need to go procure. But the question is, when are they delivering? That is not in our hands. It is the hand of the person who is bringing it to us,” Ehanire said.
“We have been told to open an account with Afreximbank under the African Union; we have done that already successfully because we are going to pay for that part of the vaccine. The COVAX vaccine is free, at no cost to us, it is made from donations.
“We want to immunise about 60 to 70% of our population. If COVAX immunises 20, then we have about 40 to 50 to immunise within the next two years. So, we have to pay for that minus any donations that we get like the MTN donation. For example, all those ones reduce the quantities that we have to purchase or any other that in future are given to us free of charge.
“Now, the COVAX will start delivering to African countries before the end of February. That’s what they told us. But they didn’t tell us which country is first or which is second, which is third. So, COVAX begins to deliver before the end of February. And we hope that before the end of this month, it would be our turn or latest by beginning of next month.
“As for us here, we are ready to use vaccination once it arrives, we met all the conditions. They have asked us to sign an indemnification form, we have done that. Indemnification means that you do not hold us responsible for anything that happens from using this vaccine.
“That’s a standard process. We’ve signed that indemnification and so we are waiting for the vaccines to arrive anytime. I don’t think that they will arrive in all African countries at the same time. They arrive one by one stage by stage or the order in which they arrive is determined by COVAX, who is the entity deleting this vaccine.”
On why Nigeria is receiving the AstraZeneca vaccines whose rollout has been discontinued by South African government as it was found to be less effective, the minister noted that the WHO has approved the vaccine for Nigeria.