COVID-19 Vaccine Won’t Be Available This January- FG

…Appeal Against Its Rejection On Arrival

Joseph Bakare

The Minister of State for Health, Olorunnimbe Mamora, on Thursday, January 7, disclosed that the COVID-19 vaccines may not get to Nigeria this month.

Mamora, who disclosed this at the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 briefing in Abuja, said the vaccines may not arrive in the country at the expected time.

Also, the Minister warned Nigerians against complacency in containing the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Federal Government had said in December last year the country would receive at least 100,000 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines by the end of January.

Mamora, who was represented at the briefing by the Director of Hospital Services, Federal Ministry of Health, Adebimpe Adebiyi, stressed the importance of non-pharmaceutical measures in the efforts to reduce the transmissibility of the virus.

He said the government was working hard to get the approved vaccines to fight the virus.

The Minister said: “We are working very hard to get vaccines for our people. It may not come soon enough; therefore we need to be alive to get the vaccines when they come.”

Meanwhile, the Federal Government has appealed to Nigerians not to reject the COVID-19 vaccine when it gets to Nigeria.

Dr Faisal Shuaib, the Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), made the appeal at the Presidential Task Force (PTF) briefing on COVID-19 on Thursday, January 7 in Abuja.

Nigeria intends to get 42 million COVID-19 vaccines to cover one-fifth of its population through the global COVAX scheme.

The initial vaccines would come as part of Nigeria’s plan to inoculate 40 per cent of the population in 2021 and another 30 per cent in 2022, with 100,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine arriving by the end of January 2021.

The COVAX scheme was set up to provide vaccines to poorer countries including Nigeria whose 200 million people and poor infrastructure posed a daunting challenge to medical officials rolling out the vaccinations.

According to Shuaib, President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and other prominent Nigerians are willing to be among the first set of Nigerians to receive the vaccine on live television to help drive acceptance.

“This is in accordance with terms of the prioritisation of vaccines and strategic country leadership.

“These critical leaders and others would likely take the vaccine in the full glare of the public to demonstrate that this vaccine is safe.

“So, we have to make provisions for them.

“Even in developed countries, what we have seen is that apart from the prioritisation of health workers, you have to also identify with critical leaders that you don’t want to be wiped off by the virus.

“For example, in warfare, if you want to destroy your enemies, you look for specific leaders, captains, the generals; once you decapitate them, then the soldiers will become weak.

“So, as much as possible, you do not want to also leave your leaders vulnerable to COVID-19; it doesn’t mean you want to prioritise politicians, that is not correct,’’ he said.

Shuaib also emphasised that health workers would be given priority to take the COVID-19 vaccine when it arrives in Nigeria; because they are the ones in direct contact with cases in isolation units.

On herd or population immunity to COVID-19, the NPHCDA said it is better to rely on vaccines

Herd immunity, also known as population immunity refers to when most of a population is immune to an infectious disease; this provides indirect protection or herd immunity or protection to those who are not immune to the disease.

Shuaib said: “There is no shadow of a doubt, even from the different vaccines that we have used in the past; it is always better to use the vaccines.

“It will be approximately 10 years for you to be able to achieve herd immunity. So you can imagine how many people would have died if you have to rely on herd immunity.

“The Swiss tried herd immunity for a lot of people; herd immunity just doesn’t work.

“The Americans touched it and see what is happening in the U.S.

“Herd immunity is not the way to go. The evidence is there that when you use vaccines; you are more likely to quickly attempt herd immunity to protect more people.”

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