The World-Health-Organisation-led COVAX global initiative has failed to shortlist Nigeria for the Pfizer coronavirus vaccines.
The blacklisting followed Nigeria’s inability to meet the standard requirement of storing the vaccines at the required -70 degrees Celsius.
The Nigerian government had stated that it was expected to receive 100,000 doses through the COVAX initiative, which was set up to ensure rapid and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for all countries, regardless of income level.
WHO Africa director Dr Matshidiso Moeti, however, said only four African countries were shortlisted for the Pfizer vaccine out of the 13 that applied.
Moeti said WHO could not risk the Pfizer vaccines being wasted, Punch reported.
“Around 320,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine have been allocated to four African countries – Cape Verde, Rwanda, South Africa and Tunisia,” during a virtual press conference on Saturday.
“This vaccine has received WHO Emergency Use Listing but requires countries to store and distribute doses at minus 70 degrees Celsius.
“To access an initial limited Pfizer vaccine volume, countries were invited to submit proposals. Thirteen African countries submitted proposals and were evaluated by a multi-agency committee based on current mortality rates, new cases and trends, and the capacity to handle the vaccine’s ultra-cold chain needs.
“This announcement allows countries to fine-tune their planning for COVID-19 immunisation campaigns.
“We urge African nations to ramp up readiness and finalise their national vaccine deployment plans.
“Regulatory processes, cold chain systems and distribution plans need to be in place to ensure vaccines are safely expedited from entry ports to delivery.
“We can’t afford to waste a single dose,” she said.
The Executive Director of the National PrimaryHealth Care Development Agency, Dr Faisal Shuaib, had bragged that Nigeria had the capacity to store the vaccine.
All hope is, however, not lost as Moeti said countries that failed to make the Pfizer list could get the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine later in the month, although WHO has not yet endorsed it.
“Nearly 90 million of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine could start arriving on the continent later this month,” Moeti said.
“This is subject to the WHO listing the vaccine for emergency use. The review is ongoing and its outcome is expected very soon.”
The WHO director said it was time for African countries to up their game in vaccines’ rollout.