BY EMEKA EJERE
After a long wait, the federal government has confirmed that the first tranche of Covid-19 vaccines will arrive in Nigeria on Tuesday, March 2, 2021.
Nigeria had indicated readiness to receive its first shipment of 4 million Covid-19 vaccines from COVAX, a World Health Organization (WHO)-backed initiative set up to procure and ensure equitable distribution of vaccines for free among countries across the globe, as the world races to contain the coronavirus pandemic.
According to News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, made the confirmation on Saturday in Abuja while evaluating the country’s fight against the disease.
Mustapha, who doubles as the chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, disclosed the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) would be organizing the shipment from Mumbai, India.
He said, “They (vaccines) should depart India on March 1, 2021, in the night and arrive in Abuja on the 2nd of March, 2021.”
The PTF chairman was full of praises for Nigeria’s health workers and the various frontline workers for working hard to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
In his evaluation of the country’s response to Covid-19 in the last one year, Mustapha said the PTF had performed very well with a very robust national response.
He said, “We have succeeded in discharging our mandate of managing the pandemic with a well-defined process and a robust national response.’’
The SGF said that the strategies developed 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 improve on its health infrastructure, citing the increase in the number of infectious diseases testing laboratories from 4 to 132 across the country.
COVAX, which was set up in April 2020 to help ensure a fairer distribution of coronavirus vaccines between the rich and poor nations, said it would deliver 2 billion doses to member-states by the end of 2021.
The Federal Government had earlier announced that the first 4 million doses of the vaccines from COVAX would arrive in the country by the end of February 2021.
According to reports, Ghana became the first African country to benefit from the COVAX programme on Wednesday after receiving 600,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccines
Cote d`Ivoire also received over 500,000 doses of the Oxford-Astrazeneca COVID-19 vaccine on Friday.