Nigeria not banned from receiving COVID-19 vaccines — Lai Mohammed’s aide

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has not disqualified Nigeria from receiving coronavirus vaccines, a government official says.

Segun Adeyemi, who is media aide to information and culture minister Lai Mohammed, says the reported disqualification of Nigeria from COVID-19 vaccines rollout is fake news.

But what reports said was that Nigeria could not get Pfizer coronavirus vaccines yet because the country lacked capacity to store the drugs at the appropriate temperature. The reports didn’t say Nigeria was banned from receiving other vaccines.

Adeyemi shared remarks by WHO country representative Dr Walter Kazadi on the matter. The remarks were, according to Adeyemi, made on Saturday.

Here are the highlights:

1. WHO has not disqualified any country in Africa from accessing COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX facility, but rather is supporting all countries to access vaccines as quickly as possible.

2. Currently, all countries on the continent are expected to start accessing the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccines by the end of February. The vaccine is under review by WHO for Emergency Use Listing and the outcome is expected soon.

3. Of the 88 million AstraZeneca doses allocated to African countries for the first phase, Nigeria has received by far the largest allocation, with 16 million doses.

4. In addition to the Astra Zeneca doses, there is an initial limited volume of Pfizer vaccine available through COVAX.

5. Demand for the initial allocation of 1.2 million Pfizer doses was exceptionally high. COVAX received interest from 72 countries around the world, of which 51 countries were considered by the review committee as “ready” (Nigeria was among these countries) and 18 countries in total were finally chosen to receive initial Pfizer doses.

6. On the Africa continent, as of the 18 January deadline, COVAX received 13 submissions and a multi-agency committee evaluated the proposals of which 9 were recommended as ready to deploy the Pfizer vaccine including Nigeria.

7. Unfortunately, it was not feasible to provide each of these 51 countries with Pfizer doses, due to a number of factors including the limited capacity for Pfizer to handle many countries at once. Therefore, spreading the limited doses across all the 51 countries deemed ‘ready’. could have not achieve the intended public health benefit.

8. After epidemiological data was taken into account, the decision was taken to proportionally balance the number of self financing and AMC Participants, as well as Participants across all six WHO regions.

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