Nigeria on Tuesday received its first batch of COVID-19 vaccine, becoming the third country in Africa to get the vaccines through COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility (COVAX), a global initiative formed to ensure fair access to inoculations for low- and middle-income nations reported Africa News.
An Emirates flight carrying 3.94 million doses of the vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and drugmaker AstraZeneca arrived on Tuesday at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in the capital, Abuja.
The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, are the first of 16 million vaccines that the COVAX plans to deliver over the coming months to Nigeria. The country’s healthcare and front-line workers will be the first to be inoculated later this week.
“Today is a good day for Nigeria,” Faisal Shuaib, director of Nigeria’s primary healthcare agency, said in a statement. “Our team is ready to start administering doses to frontline health workers.”
Nigeria’s food and drug control agency approved the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine for use last month. The vaccination campaign is scheduled to start on Friday with frontline workers and support staff followed by the country’s president and vice president on Saturday.
While richer countries have already begun with vaccinations, many poorer countries are still awaiting deliveries, prompting the World Health Organization (WHO) to warn the coronavirus crisis cannot end unless everyone can inoculate their populations.
The Nigerian government is hoping to vaccinate at least 70 percent of its adult population over the next two years.
“As the vaccines arrive in batches due to limited supply we will inform Nigerians about who and where to receive the vaccine,” a government spokesman Garba Shehu told reporters on Monday.
The Nigerian health agency has launched a self-registration portal online for the vaccine rollout.
Shuaib said all the states without a functional airport will have their vaccines transported by road using vans with fitted cold cabins, from the nearest airport.
Nigeria has recorded 156,017 cases and 1,915 deaths since the start of the pandemic.