Abuja — The federal government yesterday took delivery of 3, 924,000 doses of Astra-Zeneca COVID-19 vaccines from India, the first tranche of the 16 million doses expected under Covax arrangement.
On arrival at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, the presidential task force (PTF) on COVID-19 declared the vaccine safe and potent.
The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) had approved the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for use in Nigeria.
NAFDAC said upon acquiring the dossier of the vaccine, its safety committee went to work immediately to evaluate the vaccine safety and efficacy for Nigerians.
Speaking at the Abuja airport yesterday while receiving the vaccine, secretary to government of the federation (SGF) and chairman of PTF, Boss Mustapha said the arrival of the Astra-Zeneca vaccines was a significant milestone in the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria.
He stated: "For over one year, humanity has remained under the siege of a virus that has impacted on lives, livelihood, destroyed economies, governance systems, medical services, socio-economic systems.
"Nations around the world have deployed enormous resources to tackle the virus which has seen a first wave and more virulent second wave. As at date, it has claimed over 2.5 million lives worldwide and we are still counting.
"The successful development of vaccines and the accelerated process for emergency authorisation has brought hope to humanity all over the world. Its arrival in Nigeria today has been made possible through purposeful leadership by His Excellency, the President, and collaboration with domestic stakeholders, the international community and pain staking technical efforts to ensure that what we are offering Nigerians is safe and efficacious.
"Prior to the vaccine phase, we had introduced and promoted the non-pharmaceutical interventions. These remain very valid measures to take under the Infection Prevention and Control Policy. I therefore urge all Nigerians to continue to comply with these measures even as we roll out the vaccines administration plan which is expected to reach 70 per cent of our population between 2021 and 2022. Under the circumstances, it must continue to be NPIs + vaccines".
Mustapha noted that although the consignment of vaccines is just 3.924million doses of the expected 16million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from the COVAX facility, the Nigerian government is grateful to the coalition that has made it possible for the country to receive it.
"The administration of the vaccines to the last mile will be prioritized in a strategically planned manner to meet our peculiar needs, to cover our heroic health care workers who have sacrificed their all, including their lives, in the cause of caring for the rest of us. The PTF, working with the FMoH/NPHCDA, shall also ensure transparency, efficiency and economy under the process. It is therefore important to assure all Nigerians that their turns for receiving the jab will come," he said.
On the role out of the vaccine, the PTF chairman urged all stakeholders, including traditional rulers, religious leaders, Civil Society Orgainisation and the media to carry the message on the significance of being vaccinated to the grass roots and all segments of the society ahead of the full roll out in the coming days, adding that it is a fight for everyone.
Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, who was also at the airport, said implored all Nigerians to come out and be vaccinated when called upon.
Similarly, director-general of NAFDAC, Mojisola Adeyeye, whp expressed delight at the delivery of the vaccine said, "We will ensure the best vaccine is given to Nigerians. We will do our due checks and diligence before the rolling out of the vaccines."
Chairman, Senate committee on Primary Health Care, Senator Chukwuka Utazi, who was also at the airport to receive the vaccine, said the National Assembly must ensure the vaccines get to the most vulnerable first.