The federal government has barred the private sector from administering COVID-19 vaccine, reserving the vaccination exclusively for the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) for safety reasons.
Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, said at a media briefing by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Abuja yesterday that the government is restricting the deployment and implementation of the vaccination programme to NPHCDA and will not allow private sector vaccination.
Ehanire explained that it is for purposes of safe and proper management of the COVID-19 vaccination, including dealing with any after-effects that the federal government has banned the private sector from vaccination.
The federal government also said it would soon receive over 42 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for about 45 per cent of the country's population from the African Union (AU).
It said Nigeria subscribed to two multilateral vaccine access platforms; the first being the COVAX facility that will supply members, including Nigeria, vaccines free to cover 20 per cent of the population.
Giving an update on COVID-19 procurement, Ehanire said the country has subscribed to two multilateral vaccine access platforms, COVAX facility being brokered under the auspices of the AU.
He added that the other multilateral platform is the African Union (AVATT) platform, the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team, chaired by the President of South Africa, Mr. Cyril Ramaphosa from which Nigeria expects to get a total of 44 million doses of vaccines.
According to him, the first batch of the vaccines expected from the Covax facility, which is free, will cover 20 per cent of Nigeria's population.
Also, aside from the expected first batch of 100,000 vaccines from Covax facility, there has now been a change that now offers Nigeria 16 million vaccine doses in the first half of the year.
On the vaccine acquisition by the AU, Ehanire said there is positive development which showed vaccine doses being acquired by AVATT may increase to 400 million.
He said AVATT had earlier provided 300 million doses of three types of vaccines which have been offered to African countries, based on population, such that no country is left behind.
"Nigeria subscribes to this whole-of-Africa approach that strives to ensure that we are safe and our neighbours are safe.
"We shall be offered over 42 million doses by AVATT. If all the projected vaccines are supplied, we estimate we should have covered over 45 per cent of the population," he said.
The minister stated that in addition to the proposed sources, Nigeria has bilateral negotiations with Gamaleya of Russia over their Sputnik V vaccine, which they are willing to supply to Nigeria.
He explained that the Russian vaccine has an efficacy of 91 per cent.
"We are also in talks with the High Commissioner of India over the Covax vaccine of Barhat Institute. Both vaccines dossiers are under evaluation with the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).
Ehanire also spoke about the concerns generated by a report that Nigeria was disqualified from assessing Pfizer vaccines due to lack of storage capacity, saying: "This is false, Nigeria has ultra-cold (minus 80 degrees centigrade) freezers in strategic stores in Lagos, Abuja and Bauchi, with space to hold over 400,000 doses of vaccines, more than the 320,000 doses WHO had offered.
He said that the 320,000 doses of Pfizer vaccines had been reserved for countries with very high burden, to which Nigeria did not belong.
The minister, however, said Nigeria is keeping abreast of global development on vaccine deployment and will support the WHO policy on fair and equitable distribution of vaccines.