Nigeria’s federal government says it expects another shipment of 3.92 million AstraZeneca vaccine to arrive in the country between July and August.
The Executive Director of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib, who made the disclosure at a media briefing in Abuja on Tuesday, noted that the federal government had resumed vaccination of the first dose in anticipation of the receipt of the next batch of AstraZeneca vaccine.
“We now have information that Nigeria will get 3.92 million doses of Oxford/AstraZeneca by end of July or early August. As we receive additional information on the exact dates in August, we will provide an update regarding timelines and details of this,” he stated.
Shuaib said that the federal government had commenced administering the first dose of the vaccine, which was earlier halted due to shortages.
On the assessment of the impact of AstraZeneca vaccine so far, Shuaib said recent research from Public Health England (PHE) showed that the Indian (Delta) variant B.1.617.2 is 92 per cent susceptible to Oxford/AstraZeneca.
According to him, it is comforting to note that the vaccine used in Nigeria can protect against this variant that caused high morbidity and mortality in India.
“However, it underscores the need for us to ramp up our vaccination to more Nigerians.
“As you all are aware, hesitancy towards the second dose is very tied to the continued misinformation and disinformation about COVID-19 and the vaccination programme globally and locally,” he said.
He urged the media not to relent in bringing to bear on COVID-19, “the sheer patriotism and professional prowess you demonstrated in our collective and successful fight against polio in Nigeria.”
According to Shuaib, the goal of government is to educate, combat misinformation and engender confidence in the safety and effectiveness of vaccines, and to ensure all Nigerians have clear information on how, where, and when to get the vaccine.
While commenting on the outcome of the recent meeting of the G7 meeting, Shuaib said the leaders of major, rich countries were becoming increasingly aligned with the thinking that the inequities cannot continue.
“Not only because it is a moral failure, but because it is strategically unwise for their own efforts to end the COVID-19 pandemic. On the final day of the summit, leaders committed to delivering at least one billion coronavirus vaccine doses to the world over the next year. While this will not close the enormous gap that exists today, it is a positive step and we welcome the new focus.
“Additionally, President Biden announced on the eve of the summit that the US will purchase 500 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and donate them to low- and middle-income countries through the next year.
“This pledge is by far the largest yet by one country. These doses will be distributed via Covax. We welcome this announcement and encourage other nations with the means to follow the US’ example so that we, as a global community, can move forward from COVID-19 swiftly,” he said.
Shuaib also stated that Mastercard Foundation has pledged to donate $1.3 billion for vaccines in Africa over the next three years in partnership with the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
World Health Organisation (WHO) Country Representative, Dr. Water Mulombo, said that COVAX planned to announce another round of dose allocations where Nigeria may receive more doses.
He said WHO position on the AstraZeneca vaccine remained the same: that the benefits of vaccination were far greater than the risk of the rare side effect.
“The vaccine remains a valuable tool in the fight against severe COVID-19,” he said.