103 Million Nigerians To Get COVID-19 Vaccines Free

Yemisi Izuora

The Federal Government said it has made provision in the 2021 budget to pay for the vaccination of about 103 million Nigerians or 50 per cent of the population against COVID-19.

The Director General of the Budget Office of the Federation Ben Akabueze said this in Abuja on Tuesday during the public presentation of the 2021 budget.

Akabueze said there is a global alliance to support economically weak nations with vaccines, adding that the plan would help to reduce the spread on the virus.

He said, “Our understanding of the current plan is that we will be getting vaccines donations to cover up to 20 per cent of our population but then the global standards says that to achieve herd immunity you have to vaccine at least 70 percent of the population and so there is a 50 percent of the population that we may be required to pay for their own vaccination.

“Already, there is an inter-ministerial committee looking at this matters and the assurance is that government will do whatever is needful to keep the citizens and economy safe even if it means coming back with a supplementary budget.”

With the recent upsurge in the number of cases of the Coronavirus pandemic, which had resulted in the loss of lives of over 1,361 people, the Federal Government has said that it would do all it could to avoid shutting down the economy as it did last year.

Nigeria has recorded about 101,331 confirmed cases with about 80,481 of them discharged as of Monday, January 12.

The Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, had on Monday said the reopening of schools and religious centres without adherence to safety protocols contributed to the rise in COVID-19 cases across Nigeria.

He noted that reopening of airports and increased local and international travels also fuel the rise in Coronavirus cases from late November 2020.

“It is however very instructive to stress that factors that have contributed to rise in numbers from late November 2020 included increased local and international travels, business and religious activities, reopening of schools without strict compliance with COVID-19 safety measures,” Mustapha said.

Since early December, there has been a spike in coronavirus cases across Africa’s most populous country, an indication that the country had entered the second wave of the pandemic.

Health experts believe the lowering of guard on safety and the weak enforcement of protocols especially in the country’s major airports in Abuja and Lagos could be responsible for the development.

They warn that the situation could get worse if citizens keep violating safety protocols.

The federal government recently warned that a significant increase in COVID-19 infections in Nigeria appears imminent this January due to the violation of safety protocols during the Christmas period.

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