Osagie Ehanire, minister of health, says the federal government is expecting 15 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine in February.
The minister disclosed this during the media briefing of the presidential task force (PTF) on COVID-19 in Abuja, on Monday.
Ehanire, who had earlier said the first batch of COVID-19 vaccine doses would arrive in January, explained that the change in time was caused by the vaccine manufacturer.
He said the African Union allocated over 41 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine to Nigeria, and of the total, 15 million doses facilitated through COVAX will arrive in February.
“The date of first arrival of vaccines in Nigeria has kept changing because the decision lies with the manufacturer, who already has heavy commitments. According to latest information I have, we have been advised to expect the first COVID-19 vaccines from COVAX to arrive Nigeria as from February,” he said.
“We shall continue to review plans to ensure smooth rollout in our country — a huge task in the hands of NPHCDA, which is better placed than any organisation, with the requisite institutional memory from polio eradication and routine immunisation, to deliver the vaccine to all areas of Nigeria.
“Nigeria has been allocated over 41 million doses by the AU’s African Vaccines Acquisition Task Team (AVATT), and we can expect 15 of about 42 million doses from COVAX. Altogether, it will give us coverage for over 50 percent of our target for 2021, if we can access all doses promised.”
Ehanire said Nigeria recorded 43,732 new cases in January, representing nearly one-third of the total infections confirmed since February 2020.
He called for equity in the allocation of vaccines globally, adding that COVID-19 is a threat to all countries.
“With that and a higher index of suspicion of our health workers, 43,732 new cases were identified in January, accounting also for more than a third of all cases since the first confirmed case in Nigeria in February last year. Sadly, 297 deaths were also recorded this January with a case fatality rate of 0.7 percent against a cumulative case fatality rate of 1.2 percent,” he said.
“We have been keeping a strict eye on the vaccines scene and those who follow international news would have heard of the scramble for vaccines, which has pitched some countries against each other in Europe, as wealthy high-income countries have pre-paid to allocate vaccines to themselves.
“A spokesperson for the World Health Organisation estimated that 95 percent of vaccines manufactured globally so far has gone to only 10 rich and powerful countries. We join the WHO in calling for global equity in the allocation of vaccines, since COVID-19 is a threat to mankind and not only to any country alone.
“Besides, the director-general of the World Health Organisation has repeatedly stated that no country is safe till all countries are safe.”