The much awaited COVID-19 vaccines are set to arrive Nigeria on Tuesday, March 2, 2021.
This was disclosed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha.
The SGF, who doubles as Chairman, Presidential Task Force on COVID-19; revealed that the expected consignment is the first tranche of COVID-19 vaccines.
“They (vaccines) should depart India on March 1, 2021 in the night and arrive in Abuja on the 2nd of March, 2021,” he said.
Equally important, Nigeria is set to receive its first four million shipment of COVID-19 vaccines from COVAX; a global scheme set up to procure and distribute vaccines for free, as the world races to contain the coronavirus pandemic.
Recall COVAX was set up in April 2020 to help ensure a fairer distribution of coronavirus vaccines between the rich and poor nations. The initiative targets the delivery of two billion doses to member-states by the end of 2021.
Specifically, Nigeria’s four million vaccines would be its first COVID-19 vaccines from the COVAX facility.
Further, the facility promised access to vaccines for up to 20 per cent of participating countries’ population; with an initial supply beginning in the first quarter of 2021 to inoculate three per cent of their populations.
The Nigerian government had earlier announced that the first four million doses of the vaccines would arrive in the country by the end of February. The SGF disclosed that the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) would be organising the shipment from Mumbai, India; with the World Health Organisation (WHO), both backers of COVAX.
Meanwhile, the PTF Chairman has praised Nigeria’s health workers and the various frontline workers; for working hard to combat the pandemic. Mustapha, while evaluating the country’s response to COVID-19 in the past year; said the PTF had performed “very well’’ with a very robust national response.
The SGF said that the strategies evolved by his committee to manage the pandemic had been replicated in some other countries; especially the compulsory Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing for travellers. He explained that the pandemic had helped the country to scale up its health infrastructure; citing the increase in the number of infectious diseases testing laboratories from four to 132 across the country.