NIGERIAN health officials have announced plans to vaccinate at least 100m people against the Covid-19 virus by March under an ambitious programme to insulate the country from the dreaded global pandemic.
Medical experts have warned that Nigeria needs to set aside N540.4bn ($1.4bn) to purchase 218.m doses of the new coronavirus vaccine if the nation wants to combat the growing second wave of the pandemic currently sweeping across the globe. According to the World health Organisation (WHO), Nigeria will require about $1.4bn to procure and distribute 218,400,000 doses of Covid-19 for double doses for 60% of its population.
It is expected that the Pfizer vaccine will arrive in Nigeria before the end of this year and according to National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (Nafdac) director-general Professor Mojisola Adeyeye, this will herald the start of an indigenous manufacturing programme. She added that achieving ISO 9001 in June 2019, which is the world’s most recognised quality management system standard kept Nigeria in good standing to get to the maturity level three which enables manufacturing of its own vaccines.
Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, the director-general of the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said that the country will rise up to the challenge by ensuring 100m people are vaccinated over the next three months. he expressed confidence in the Covid-19 vaccine, saying Nigeria has been able to eliminate polio and fight smallpox through vaccines.
“No medical intervention, not one, has saved more lives since the beginning of mankind than vaccination. No great hospital, no surgery, no medicine, not even antibiotics, has saved more lives than vaccines.
“We’ve just celebrated, in-between this pandemic, the elimination of polio in Nigeria. We completely eliminated smallpox through the effort of humans through vaccination,” Dr Ihekweazu added.
He said that efforts to educate Nigerians on the benefits of vaccines are currently going on around the country. Already, several critics have warned against vaccination, saying the new vaccine may have side effects and have also suggested that the pharmaceutical companies may be using Africans as guinea pigs.
However, Dr Ihekweazu said: “We are going to work very hard to educate Nigerians on the benefits of vaccines, the opportunity it gives us to return to our normal lives and that’s what’s going on around the country right now. By the time we get this vaccine sometime in the first quarter of next year, there will be hundreds of millions of people that would already have received this vaccine.”