INDIA has donated 100,000 does of its Covishield coronavirus vaccine to Nigeria through the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) as part of a programme to enable the country carry through its vaccination programme.
Early last month, Nigeria received its first batch of 4m doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine under the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Assess Facility (Covax) programme aimed at catering for the needs of poor countries. Manufactured and delivered from India, the 4m dose batch was the first of several that are supposed to total 16m doses.
Like most African nations, Nigeria is not involved in the production of any of the major coronavirus vaccines and neither AstraZeneca or Pfizer have a manufacturing facility on the continent. Being wholly dependent in imports, Nigeria, which a massive population of 200m, is particularly vulnerable to suppliers like India pulling the plug.
In late March, Nigeria received a big scare as India suspended the exports of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine from the Serum Institute in what is believed to be a response to growing domestic shortages. With shortages becoming an issue globally, the European Union (EU) is also considering giving member states greater scope to block vaccines exports outside the bloc.
However, India has come to Nigeria’s rescue with the latest donation. As on April 2 this year, India had supplied 61.426m doses of Made-in-India vaccines to 82 countries and will be supplying to more countries soon.
India’s high commissioner to Nigeria, Abhay Thakur, said: “These 100,000 doses of vaccines, manufactured at the Serum Institute of India, Pune, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturing facility, arrived at the Abuja airport from Mumbai via Addis Ababa on 26 March 2021 at 1200 hours. The consignment was delivered to the NPHCDA by the High Commission of India.
“The Covishield vaccine manufactured at the Serum Institute of India is the first Covid-19 vaccine approved by National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, Nigeria. Its first lot of 3.92m doses of vaccines under Covax had reached Nigeria on March 2 2021 and the bilateral donation of 100,000 doses of Covishield vaccines is in fulfilment of the announcement made by the High Commissioner of India at that time.”
Mr Thakur stated that the supply of vaccines to Nigeria is in keeping with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s commitment, made in September 2020, that India’s vaccine production and delivery capacity will be used to help humanity in fighting Covid-19. He added that these supplies are in keeping with India’s longstanding, age-old and time-tested ties with Nigeria, based on close friendship and deep mutual trust.
He added: “India has been at the forefront of the global fight against the pandemic and supports a collective approach in this battle. Guided by this philosophy and as the pharmacy of the world, India, under its Vaccine Maitri (friendship) initiative, has supplied millions of doses of vaccines to many countries spread across the globe.
“Despite the supply shortages and at a time when the 1.3bn population of India itself has been administered about 55m vaccines so far, India is still supplying vaccines across the world, far and wide. With about 3m daily vaccinations taking place in India, its own needs are huge but nearly 36.5% of all vaccines supplied to the world, as of mid-March, were Made in India.”
According to Mr Thakur, India is not only a leading producer of AstraZeneca, Novavax and Sputnik vaccines but has also developed its own indigenous vaccine called Covishield, manufactured by Bharat Biotech. He added that it is highly effective and has been supplied to many countries.