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Why Nigeria may not access COVAX Pfizer vaccines in February

Nigeria was not shortlisted for the Pfizer vaccines by the COVAX global initiative.

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When the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, announced last week that the COVID-19 vaccines would arrive Nigeria before the end of February, several Nigerians were hopeful that there was light at the end of the tunnel. But it appears their hopes may be dashed, due to the latest news from the World Health Organisation (WHO).

During a virtual press conference hosted by the global health body and shared on its Twitter handle, Nigeria was not shortlisted for the Pfizer vaccines by the WHO-led COVAX global initiative. This may be due to an allegation that the continent’s largest economy is unable to meet the standard requirement of being able to store the vaccines at the required 70 degrees Celsius.

At the event, Director, WHO, African Region, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, clearly stated that only four African countries were shortlisted for the Pfizer vaccine out of the 13 that applied.

To access an initial limited volume of Pfizer vaccine, countries were invited to submit proposals. 13 African countries submitted proposals and were evaluated by a multi-agency committee based on current mortality rates, new cases and trends, and the capacity to handle the ultra-cold chain needs of the vaccine.

She said, “In addition, around 320,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine have been allocated to four African countries: Cabo Verde, Rwanda, South Africa & Tunisia. Deliveries are also expected later in February.”

Moeti emphasised that WHO could not risk the Pfizer vaccines being wasted. According to her, the vaccine has received WHO Emergency Use Listing but requires countries to be able to store and distribute doses at minus 70 degrees Celsius.

This 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. We can’t afford to waste a single dose,” she added.

But is there hope?

Nigeria was expected to be on the list of African countries to receive the first set of Pfizer vaccines because of its rate of infection, but with the WHO announcement, the nation will need to wait longer.

While Morocco, and Egypt have already independently obtained vaccines and begun distribution, South Africa, has already procured one million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, produced in India.

However, Nigeria has not received any COVID-19 vaccine and its rate of infection has continued to surge. If the nation does not get the vaccines in February, the atmosphere could be more tensed, with the increasing cases witnessed in the country.

On the brighter side, it appears that there is hope for Nigeria, as there is an Oxford-AstraZeneca option to explore.

Moeti added that countries that failed to make the Pfizer list could get the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine later in the month, although it has not yet been endorsed by the health organisation.

But do we have the storage facilities for this? Findings revealed that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine does not need to be stored in a cold facility.

“Nearly 90 million of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine could start arriving on the continent later this month. This is subject to the WHO listing the vaccine for emergency use. The review is ongoing and its outcome is expected very soon,” she said.

What you should know

  • To complement COVAX efforts, the African Union has secured 670 million vaccine doses for the continent which will be distributed in 2021 and 2022 as countries secure adequate financing.
  • The African Export-Import Bank will facilitate payments by providing advance procurement commitment guarantees of up to $2 billion to the manufacturers on behalf of countries.
  • Last Monday, our source  had reported when Ehanire announced that Nigeria would take delivery of 15 million vaccines from COVAX in February.
  • Though the minister did not specify the date or time, he disclosed that the government had been advised to expect the first batch of the vaccines from February.
  • He said, “According to latest information I have, we have been advised to expect the first COVID-19 vaccines from Covax to arrive in Nigeria as from February. We shall continue to review plans to ensure smooth roll out in our country.”
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Coronavirus

Covid-19: FG announces 4 phases in the vaccination process against the pandemic

The FG has released phased processes in its vaccination programme against the Covid-19 pandemic.

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The Federal Government has announced the phased processes in its vaccination programme against the Covid-19 pandemic, which is expected to take off on March 5, 2021.

This follows the expected arrival on Tuesday, March 2, 2021, of the first batch of 3,924,000 Covid-19 vaccines under the COVAX initiative from Mumbai, India.

This was disclosed in a statement by the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on Covid-19 on Monday, March 1, 2021.

The PTF said that the vaccine deployment, which is expected to be done by the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), with assistance from other sister agencies, has been divided into 4 phases.

The 4 phases with the expected activities and vaccination processes include:

1. Phase 1 Vaccination Process

  • All frontline health workers to be vaccinated
  • Vaccines to be deployed to states based on their level of preparedness
  • Cargo planes to be provided for the transport of the vaccines to states.

It should be noted that the 3,924,000 vaccine doses expected to arrive on Tuesday will cater for the initial rollout and Phase 1 Vaccination stage.

2. Phase 2 Vaccination Process (Vaccination of the elderly from 50 years and above)

  • Vaccination of 60 years and above to occur first (Group 1), then
  • Vaccination of 50-55 years (Group 2) to follow

It should be noted that Nigeria is expected to receive another batch of Covid-19 vaccines for this stage.

3. Phase 3 Vaccination Process

  • Vaccination of those between 18 and 49 years with co-morbidities (such as hypertension, diabetes, lung disease, other heart diseases, liver or renal disease, and so on)

4. Phase 4 Vaccination Process

  • Vaccination of the rest of the eligible population between ages 18 and 49 years.

What you should know

Nigeria is expecting the arrival of the first batch of 3,924,000 Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine on Tuesday, March 2, with vaccination expected to commence on March 5 at National Hospital Abuja for frontline health workers.

The expected arrival of the vaccine is coming after Ghana and Cote’D’Ivoire announced the arrival of the Covid-19 vaccine under the COVAX initiative.

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Coronavirus

How to register for Covid-19 vaccination in Nigeria

The NPHCDA has announced guidelines to register for COVID-19 vaccinations.

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The National Primary Health Care Development Agency, NPHCDA, has released guidelines on registering for Covid-19 vaccination in Nigeria.

The guidelines were announced Monday morning in a social media post and they are as follows:

Step 1: Visit https://nphcda.gov.ng/

Step 2: Click on ” covid-19 vaccination e-registration”

  • In the Registration Form for COVID-19 Vaccination you are to fill in; your full names, phone number, email address, date of birth, sex, the type of National ID you have, a residential address which states, the LGA of residence, ward of residence and preferred vaccination site.
  • You are meant to also select your preferred vaccination date and time slot, which ends with a photo update.

After doing the above steps, you will receive a message saying:

“Registration Completed! …Your Vaccination ID is:

Your data is successfully received.

Thank you for taking time to fill the form, you will receive an SMS and email shortly containing your Vaccination No. and other instructions.”

What you should know 

  • The Federal Government confirmed that the first tranche of Covid-19 vaccines will arrive in Nigeria on Tuesday, March 2, 2021.
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FG launches strategy for introduction of Covid-19 vaccine

The FG has launched a strategy for the phased and equitable introduction of the Covid-19 vaccine across the country.

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The Federal Government has launched a strategy for the introduction of the Covid-19 vaccine in a phased and equitable manner across the country.

The strategy code-named, “T.E.A.C.H”, was initiated by the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH).

According to a report by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, during the inauguration said the launch of T.E.A.C.H and Electronic Management of Immunization Data (EMID) will ensure the smooth rollout of the Covid-19 vaccination campaign across the country.

What the Minister of Health is saying

Ehanire stated, “Our goal is to introduce COVID-19 vaccine in a phased and equitable manner, based on the advice of the WHO and the experience we observe other countries to have made, and ultimately vaccinating all eligible Nigerians within the next two years, to ensure herd immunity.

“We in Nigeria finally have the privilege of joining other countries to start the vaccination, which will prioritise, first those people most at risk of infection due to their exposure in the line of duty.

”Vaccination with safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines is a critical part of the country’s strategy to counter the COVID-19 pandemic and the stop transmission of the virus. No private hospital or organisation has experience in handling this type of vaccine than the NPHCDA,” he said.

The minister also said that vaccines that were not approved by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) would be determined as dangerous and would be seized by the Nigeria Customs Services.

The minister also noted that in less than 24 hours, the first batch of AstraZeneca vaccines would arrive the country from the COVAX Facility and would be deployed.

On his own part, the Director-General of Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, said a lot of work had been done to reduce the casualty of Covid-19 in the country’s population.

Ihekweazu, who was represented by Head of Special Projects and Partnerships at NCDC, Dr Priscilla Ibekwe said that a sister agency, the NPHCDA, was prepared to lead the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines in the country and NCDC would collaborate with them to ensure a successful campaign.

The Executive Director, NPHCDA, Dr Faisal Shuaib, in his introduction of the T.E.A.C.H Strategy, said it was an Indigenous approach to roll out the Covid-19 vaccine in the country.

Shuaib said that the Country has provided an e-registration link to enable Nigerians to register for the Covid-19 vaccines themselves, to obtain their pre-vaccination numbers and scheduled date

He said that the first phase of the roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccine in the country would target front-line health workers, Covid-19 rapid response teams, laboratory network, petrol station workers and strategic leaders.

According to him, How COVID-19 will be rolled out, Phase 1- healthcare workers, security agents, first responders, petrol station workers, laboratory workers, and strategic political leadership.

What you should know

  • It can be recalled that the Federal Government had announced that Nigeria would receive its first batch of 4 million AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine from the COVAX initiative on Tuesday, March 2, 2021.
  • The COVAX Facility which is co-led by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the WHO and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), with UNICEF as a key implementing partner, is a global scheme to procure and equitably distribute vaccines for free, especially among poorer countries, as the world moves to stop the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
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