An expert in infectious disease control, Prof. Olawale Tomori has disclosed that more than ever before, Nigeria is still susceptible to the spread of COVID-19 infection.
He said that the country has no business putting all its hope on vaccines being donated by various organisations, adding that the government ought to act swiftly to order for the vaccines.
Tomori spoke yesterday on ARISE NEWS Channels, a sister broadcast arm of THISDAY Newspapers.
While appraising the performance of the country in the intervention against COVID-19 pandemic in the last one, the professor said though things were not so bad, but that the country should have done better.
"In terms of what has happened all over the country, I feel that the country could have done better. We could have prevented the number of cases we have now. We could have focused attention on the people and get them observe the non- pharmaceutical protocols as means of stopping transmission," he said.
Tomori referred to recent survey study by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and National Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), saying that it showed that there are actually more Nigerians infected by the COVID-19 virus than have been detected.
He said the survey indicated that about 20 to 25 per cent of the people in the states where the survey was carried actually may have been infected.
According to him, what the survey findings imply is that about 75 per cent not yet infected are at great risk of picking up the virus if nothing is done to strictly enforce the non-pharmaceutical protocols.
Speaking on the arrival of the 3.3 million doses of Astrazeneca vaccines to Nigeria, Tomori said that the government should move quickly to address the issue of vaccine hesitancy.
He said there is still so much doubt about the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines.
He said that one of things that the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) should do is to find ways of clearing such doubts and letting people know that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective.
"I think a large number of Nigerians don't want to hear about vaccines and I feel that this should be addressed. Convince the people that this vaccine is effective and the first group of people you vaccinate are the elite. Let's hold a vaccine rally and first vaccinate these big people and let Nigerians know that yes, if these people have taken the vaccine and didn't die, then we should also take ours," he said.
Tomori said the leadership of various arms of government should be publicly vaccinated by NPHCDA to serve as an example and encouragement for other Nigerians harbouring any doubt.
Tomori also spoke on the need to ensure sustained flow of the vaccines until every eligible Nigerians get vaccinated.
"If we start rolling out these vaccines now, what's the guarantee that more vaccines will be available in the future. We waited for almost four months before the arrival of this first batch. When is the next batch coming so that there is no stop in the process of vaccine roll? If you start now and in the next three or four months we don't have more vaccines, people will begin to lose interest".