The federal government has given fresh hope that another shipment of 3.92 million Astrazeneca vaccine will arrive Nigeria between late July and early August.
Speaking during a media briefing in Abuja on Tuesday to give an update on the COVID-19 vaccination rollout, the Executive Director of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib, said that government has resumed vaccination of first dose in anticipation of the receipt of the next batch of Astrazeneca vaccines.
“We now have information that Nigeria will get 3.92m 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 said.
While working with Nigeria’s international partners to confirm the next shipment of vaccines to Nigeria, Shuaib said that the federal government has commenced administering the first dose of the vaccine which was earlier halted due to shortages of vaccines.
On the assessment of the impact of Astrazeneca vaccine so far, Shuaib said a 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.
He said it is comforting to know 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 enjoined 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”.
Shuaib said the goal of government is to do everything possible to educate, combat misinformation and engender confidence in the safety and effectiveness of vaccines and 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 and rich countries are 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 1 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.
In addition, the Shuaib said 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.
The World Health Organization (WHO) Country Representative, Dr. Water Mulombo, said that COVAX plans to announce another round of dose allocations where Nigeria may receive further allocations.
He said WHO’s position on the AstraZeneca vaccine remained the same: that the benefits of vaccination are 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.