World Health Organisation envoy on Covid-19 Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has said actual physical quantities of Covid-19 vaccines will begin to arrive in twelve middle and low-income countries that have indicated readiness to receive the vaccines from late February of which Nigeria is among.
Ms Okonjo-Iweala, a Board Chair of Global Vaccine Alliance GAVI (a public-private global health partnership with the goal of increasing access to immunisation in poor countries) said the aim of COVAX sending the vaccines to the twelve countries is to ensure that twenty per cent of the respective population is vaccinated.
COVAX is co-led by Gavi, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and WHO and aims at accelerating the development and manufacture of Covid-19 vaccines, and to guarantee fair and equitable access for every country in the world.
“As at now, with the scramble going on, the COVAX facility has been able to contract 1.9 billion doses of vaccines for all these countries and 88 countries have put in their request from all over the world, of this 88, 42 are African countries.
“In the assessment twelve of the African countries have said they are ready to receive vaccines now and I am happy to say Nigeria is one of them,” Okonjo-Iweala said when she appeared on ARISE News.
She added further that: “What we are trying to do is with COVAX, is to try as quickly as feasible is to get vaccines to the (African) continent. COVAX expects that by the first quarter of this year and hopefully starting maybe late February, actual physical quantities of vaccines will begin to get to those countries that are ready and the aim is to send vaccines that will vaccinate twenty per cent of the population, beginning with twenty per cent.
“The prioritization is for frontline workers, those who are dealing with the medical issues to be vaccinated first and then the rest of the population according to criteria to be agreed by the government.
“Of those vaccines, AstraZeneca vaccines which are easier to distribute because they don’t require such cold conditions are good for our country, so we hope to get AstraZeneca. Also, we are looking at Novavax, Johnson & Johnson as well as Pfizer. So those are the vaccines that are in play right now that are being discussed and contracted for delivery when the time comes.”
By Abel Ejikeme