The Federal Government Thursday disclosed that it is making plans to procure at least 20 million vaccines to begin the process of inoculating the populace from the deadly covid-19 disease.
It stated that it would start with vaccinating those working in the health sector and the vulnerables, who are at risk of the disease.
The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, made this known during the briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on covid-19 in Abuja.
He said, “When considering the cost of vaccines, you don’t only look at the cost of buying or getting it here, but the cost of keeping it. Finally, you consider the operational cost – that is, the cost of actually going to give people vaccines. You need syringes, trained health workers and must all be paid. The cost implications go along those lines, and a few other costs we have not mentioned.
“We are a population of 200 million. There is hope of vaccinating as many people as possible, but we want to start with at least 20 million doses which we are expecting from the COVAX facility, beginning with those who are working in the health sector – who are exposed to risks and are highly exposed, and then to vulnerable people who are more at risk. That whole strategy is still being developed.
“Regarding the budget, what we discussed is that it is good to speak with the National Assembly to set aside a certain amount – not that we know exactly what it is going to cost, but we have something to start with when the need comes. We do not have a real budget as yet because nobody can really measure the volume or extent of expenditure. It is just to have something you can put your hand into, even if it is for a down payment.”
The Country Representative of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Nigeria, Dr. Walter Kazadi Mulombo, in his remarks added: “WHO will only validate a vaccine that is truly efficacious and safe. We are aware that some national regulatory agencies have approved emergency use of some vaccines in the UK and also in the US, and others may follow. I want to emphasise that for WHO to validate a vaccine for emergency use, there is a process and a strategic advisory group of experts on vaccine immunisation which advises the Director-General on the validation process.
“We are in touch with vaccine manufacturers, and WHO requests access to detailed data on efficacy and safety. We will continue to encourage vaccine manufacturers to continue to monitor trial patients, particularly to know the duration of the protection. Overall, there are more than 210 candidate vaccines being tested at different phases of vaccine development, of which about 48 are already in clinical trials; 10 are very advanced and those that you are seeing for use are part of the 10 that are well-advanced. We can anticipate that there will be more in the next few months or so, that will be added to the pipeline.”