Nigeria Not Disqualified From COVID-19 Vaccine Supply, Experts Clarifies WHOs Position
AREWA AGENDA – Contrary to reports that the World Health Organisation-led COVAX global initiative has disqualified Nigeria for the supply of Pfizer vaccines, clarifications have emerged that the country is eligible for the vaccine supply after it is able to meet the criteria set by WHO and COVAX.
Arewa Agenda reports that around 320,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine have been allocated to four African countries: Cabo Verde, Rwanda, South Africa and Tunisia in a initial supply and another round of deliveries are also expected later in February.
To access an initial limited volume of Pfizer vaccine, countries were invited to submit proposals. Thirteen African countries expressed interest in participating in the initiative, and their proposals were evaluated based on current mortality rates, new cases and trends and capacities to store the vaccine at minus 70 degrees Celsius.
Speaking to Arewa Agenda on the development, Dr. Aminu Magashi Garba, coordinator of Africa Health Budget Network (AHBN) with close ties to the World Health Organization said, “no African country is disqualified by WHO to access COVID19 Vaccine from COVAX. The press statement and media engagement by WHO was reported out of context by few. Assessment of proposals are on-going and treated as case by case based on readiness, level of preparation and mortality rates. Countries will get the vaccine after fully satisfying all the criteria set by WHO and COVAX Facility. Iam optimistic Nigeria will get the vaccines soon”.
The Nigerian government had stated that it was expected to receive 100,000 doses through the COVAX initiative, which was set up to ensure rapid and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for all countries, regardless of income level, but indications have emerged that it may not receive it may not receive it in the first trench of the vaccine disbursement to African Countries until it is able to meet the WHO/COVAX criteria by the second round of disbursements.
WHO had in a virtual press conference Saturday said that the announcement allows countries to fine-tune their planning for COVID-19 immunisation campaigns. We urge African nations to ramp up readiness and finalise their national vaccine deployment plans.
Regulatory processes, cold chain systems and distribution plans need to be in place to ensure vaccines are safely expedited from ports of entry to delivery.