There are indications to suggest that the Federal Government has set Friday for the commencement of immunisation of Nigerians for the dreaded Covid 19 virus.
This is just as President Muhammadu Buhari and his Vice, Professor Yemi Osinbajo are expected to receive COVID-19 vaccine doses on Saturday.
Nigeria had on Tuesday took delivery of 3.9 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine, the first batch of the 16 million expected through the World Health Organisation-led COVAX facility.
The government is expecting 129 million vaccine doses to vaccinate 70 per cent of its population within two years.
A few vials of the vaccines were expected to be handed over to the National Agency for Food Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) team for analysis between today and tomorrow.
Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib, said: “Further to the clearance by NAFDAC, the PTF, FMOH and NPHCDA, strategic leaders will be at the treatment centre of the National Hospital on Friday, where the first vaccination site will be set up to commence the vaccination of frontline health workers and support staff. On Saturday, key strategic leaders will receive the first dose of the vaccine.
He said that CACOVID, plans to transport the vaccines to the States by air adding that states without a functional airport will have their vaccines transported by road using vans with fitted Cold Cabins, from the nearest airport.
The vaccines will be stored at the State Cold Stores, from where they will be transported by road to local government council Cold Stores
Chairman of the PTF Boss Mustapha, Minister of Health Dr Osagie Ehanire, Minister for Information Lai Mohammed, Dr. Shuaib, NAFDAC Director-General Dr. Mojisola Adeyeye, NCDC Director-General Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, ambassadors and development partners received the consignment.
The United Nations (UN) Resident Coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon, said the arrival of the vaccines marked a major milestone for the COVAX Facility.
“The arrival of these vaccines in Abuja today marks a milestone for the COVAX Facility in its unprecedented effort to deliver at least 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines globally by the end of 2021,” he said.
Kallon said that the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine would enable the NPHCDA to commence the vaccination of Nigerians in priority groups, starting with frontline healthcare workers.
The Managing Director for Country Programmes at Gavi, Thabani Maphosa: “We are glad to see Nigeria is amongst the first receiving the doses from COVAX, thanks to the excellent level of preparedness put in place by the Government of Nigeria,” Maphosa said.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) Representative in Nigeria, Mr. Walter Mulombo, said the agency congratulate the government of Nigeria for its participation in COVAX efforts and its commitment to protecting Nigerians against this pandemic.
An additional 500,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccines donated by telecom giant, MTN, will be delivered by end of the month.
The United States, United Kingdom, Germany, European Union and India hailed the arrival of the vaccines.
United States said: “The U.S. joins in welcoming arrival of the COVID19 vaccine to Nigeria. We stand with Nigeria in the face of the pandemic, with over 60 staff working on a daily basis on COVID-19 response and vaccine roll out; epidemiology; outbreak response; lab operations and data analytics.”
The United States further said it contributed $2 billion to COVAX with another $1.5 billion promised.
“We must work to finance health security; strengthen global health systems and create early warning systems to prevent, detect and respond to future biological threats because they will keep coming,” the United States also said.
UK said it has committed up to £829 million for the development of COVID-19 vaccines, treatments and diagnostics and their distribution to developing countries.
In a statement in Abuja by the Head of Communications, British High Commission, Abuja, Dean Hurlock, the UK said it galvanised the efforts because it wanted to be a force for good in the world.
The EU, in a statement on its Facebook page, said it was the lead contributor to the COVAX scheme.
The German government, in a message on its Facebook page, said: “Today, Germany welcomes the arrival of the first number doses of vaccines to Nigeria through COVAX. With 1.2 billion euro, Germany is the single biggest donor to ACT-Accelerator and COVAX. The aim of COVAX is to distribute two billion vaccine doses in 2021, in order to vaccinate the most vulnerable 20 percent of the global population – first of all: healthcare workers and risk groups.”