Several governors in Nigeria have criticised the number of doses of Covid-19 vaccines allocated to their states by the Federal Government as the country prepares to receive its first batch of jabs.
Nigeria is expecting its first 100,000 doses of Pfizer and bioNtech vaccines at the end of the month. The country has recorded over 104,000 cases in all thirty-six states.
Lagos state, the epicenter of the virus in the country with over 37,000 confirmed cases, is set to receive 3,131 of those doses. The state government has said it will buy more vaccines “independently” to ensure the safety of its residents.
“We are working on getting our own independently,” said the state’s commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Gbenga Omotoso.
“No matter what happens, the safety of Lagosians is our priority. Whatever it will take, the government will ensure that when the vaccine arrives, Lagosians are not left out.”
Omotoso, said he was “surprised” after seeing the allocations to different states. Kano state has recorded 2,491 covid-19 cases, but will receive 3,557 doses, more than Lagos, the capital Abuja and Plateau state, which are the most affected regions in the country.
“Nobody has involved us in what the national vaccine strategy would be,” Omotoso said. “So, all these are new to us. We have not heard anything from the Federal Government; there has been no directive. But whatever they give us, we will take.”
Seyi Makinde, the governor of Oyo state, called the doses allocated to his state “inadequate” and said alternative provisions will be made for additional vaccines.
“The state would talk to alternative manufacturers of vaccines and make direct procurement where possible, a spokesman for the governor said. “With 1,800 vaccines, if a person is injected with two dozes, only 900 people would get. When you look at this in consideration of the population of Oyo State, what percentage would that be? That is why the state needs to open discussion with other manufacturers of certified vaccines.”
Other states, including Ogun, Benue and Cross River, said they were not involved in deciding the sharing formula for the vaccine doses.
Nigeria will receive 42 million free doses of COVID-19 vaccines later in the year in the second phase of the COVAX facility, an initiative run by the vaccine alliance, GAVI, to ensure equitable access to vaccines by developing countries.