The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has placed a purchase order for four million doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines to be supplied to Nigeria.
The Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib made this disclosure on Monday at the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 media briefing in Abuja. The federal government had ordered 16 million doses of the vaccines.
AstraZeneca vaccine has been authorised for emergency use in Nigeria by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) following its review and assessment through a reliance mechanism upon receipt of the dossier from the manufacturer.
Shuaib said that although it will take two weeks from the time the purchase order is placed before the vaccines are delivered, UNICEF has assured that the consignment will arrive within one week.
“As of today, a purchase order has been placed by UNICEF Division for the AstraZeneca vaccine. Under normal circumstances with routine immunisation vaccines, it takes two weeks from when the purchase order is placed to when we receive the vaccine in Nigeria.
“However, considering the emergency situation in Nigeria, we have been informed by UNICEF that it will fast-track to potentially ensure that the vaccines arrive in Nigeria within one week. As soon as we receive a confirmation on the date of arrival, we will also inform Nigerians,” Shuaib said.
He said that the four million doses of AstraZeneca vaccines will arrive in the first batch of supplies to the country and be stored in the national strategic cold chain.
He also assured on NPHCDA’s capacity to store the vaccines.
He said the cold chain requirement for AstraZeneca vaccine is two to eight Degrees Celsius, which he said is in alignment with the country’s cold chain equipment that facilitates its routine immunisation and was used during the polio eradication journey.
Shuaib said the AstraZeneca vaccines will be stored in cold rooms at the zonal, state, and the local governments’ levels in vaccine refrigerators, adding that Nigeria has the facilities with solar direct coating equipment.
He noted that approximately 7,500 political wards in the country have solar direct refrigerators to enable the storage of vaccines even where there is no electricity supply.
“The remaining political wards that don’t have these facilities are currently being fed by agents that have assured us that the process will be completed by the end of this year,” Shuaib said.
Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja