Nigeria’s federal government may tinker with the COVID-19 vaccine deployment strategy by redistributing unutilised doses out of the consignments sent to states to others that need them more.
THISDAY investigation revealed that following the unanticipated shortage of the AstraZeneca vaccine, the government is considering rejigging its plan to redistribute yet-to-be utilised doses to states that have already exceeded their limit in administering the first dose.
It was learnt that Kwara State exceeded its limit as it got an allocation of 55,790 doses and administered 34,112 doses before it suspended vaccination.
The state, it was learnt, was supposed to administer 27,895 doses, which is half of its allocation since each person is supposed to receive two doses of the vaccine within 12 weeks.
To make up for the shortage of 6,317 doses in Kwara and in other states that may face similar challenge, THISDAY gathered that states that are yet to utilise their vaccine allocation may give them up for redistribution to other states that may witness shortages.
A source at the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) told THISDAY that the measure, which is the usual practice in vaccine rollout is aimed at maximising the usage of the costly vaccine and to avoid wastage, if it expires.
He blamed the recent upsurge in the COVID-19 pandemic in India for the sharp drop in the supply of vaccines across the globe.
He said: “This is a proactive step by the government. You know we are providing the vaccine based on availability. We have four million doses of vaccine that would take care of two million people because each person is entitled to two doses.
“The plan was that before we exhaust that four million, more vaccines would come through the COVAX facility but the way it looks now, we won’t receive additional doses before we exhaust the four million doses due to heightened global demand for vaccines.
“So what we were expecting from the COVAX facility may not come as planned, and in order not to get to a situation where you immunize four million people and when they are due for a second dose, you will not be able to administer it, we then have to stick to vaccinating two million people. This is because it is the two doses that give immunity and it would amount to wastage not to complete the two doses of vaccination.”
According to him, India is responsible for the manufacturing of large quantities of the vaccines in the world, but due to the increase in COVID-19 cases in the Asian country, the government decided to withhold the vaccine to take care of its local population.
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja