Nigeria: Govt Mulls Committee to Secure Access to Covid-19 Vaccines

(file photo).
23 November 2020

The committee will generate strategies for the zcquisition, deployment and options for licenced production of the COVID-19 vaccines.

The Nigerian Government has announced plans to inaugurate an 18-man national COVID-19 task team to ensure 'vaccine security' when it finally gets to the country.

The minister of health, Osagie Ehanire, made this known at the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 briefing on Monday.

He said the committee will have a seven-point of reference which will include generating strategies for acquisition, deployment and options for licenced production of the vaccines.

"Now that vaccines are known to be close at hand, the Federal Ministry of Health is taking measures towards vaccine security, for which an 18-man National COVID-19 Vaccine Task Team with seven Terms of Reference (ToR) will be inaugurated this week," he said.

Race intensifies

Three competitors have emerged in the international race to find a vaccine to counter coronavirus, which has infected almost 60 million people, killing over a million persons in at least 200 countries.

U.S. pharmaceuticals giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech have announced that their drug is 95 per cent effective and that there were no safety concerns.

The companies were already applying for an emergency use authorisation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The U.S. pharmaceutical firm Moderna on November 16, had announced that its COVID-19 vaccine candidate was 94.5 per cent effective.

Pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford also said their newly developed COVID-19 vaccine is, on average, 70.4 per cent effective.

Unlike the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines, the Astrazeneca drug does not use mRNA technology to fight the virus in the body.

It is designed to stimulate the production of antibodies and T-cells, which then attack the virus.

The Director-General of Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) Chikwe Ihekweazu had earlier said efforts are been made to ensure that Nigerians have access to the COVID-19 vaccines when available.

"We have to start preparing Nigerian population for vaccine delivery when it becomes available," he said. "Access is a very key issue when it comes to vaccines; that a vaccine is developed do not necessarily translate to being available to those that need it the most."

'Two billion doses'

The World Health Organisation is coordinating global efforts to develop a vaccine, with an eye toward delivering two billion doses by the end of 2021.

Like all vaccines, the one against COVID-19 is essentially expected to instruct the immune system to mount a defence, which is sometimes stronger than what would be provided through natural infection and comes with fewer health consequences.

There are more than 150 vaccine candidates around the world right now. Many of them will never make it out of the laboratory but the leading candidates are defying medical norms and promising a safe and efficient cure by the end of this year.

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