The assuring statement was made by the country’s former Minister of Finance Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala who made it known that the most populous African country among others will have access to the COVD-19 vaccine by January 2021.
“As long as one person has it in the world, no one is safe. And that is why poorer countries, lower middle-income countries like Nigeria, need to get it as quickly as possible”, she was quoted as saying.
She’s currently the African Union Special Envoy on mobilizing international economic support for the continental fight against COVID-19 and Nigeria’s candidate for the Office of the Director-General of the World Trade Organization.
According to reports, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala disclosed that the international initiative involved the World Health Organization, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation (CEPI), GAVI and the international community to get vaccines delivered to developing countries or poorer regions as fast as possible as more cases begin to surge in some region around the world.
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In her words, vaccines from big pharmaceutical companies such as AstraZeneca and Pfizer are said to currently being negotiated in order to have poor countries have access to them.
The level of COVID-19 cases in Africa isn’t as much as those from other countries which would have easily being overwhelmed as a result of poor health infrastructures. Dr. Okonjo-Iweala however warned against complacency.
Okonjo-Iweala recalled that a platform called the COVAX facility had been developed with 186 countries on board, saying that the side interested in serving the poor countries had 92 countries, for which resources have been raised to try and get the vaccines to them quickly.
“So, the Pfizer vaccine, the AstraZeneca, those are being negotiated now so that poor countries don’t have to stand in line behind rich countries.
“So, we hope they are starting by the end of January. We will be able to reach these countries, including most of the African countries, Nigeria included, will be able to get access to some of these vaccines.
“Initially, it will be for frontline health workers, followed by some other target groups – older people, those with underlying conditions and then, from there, the rest of the population. I think the COVAX facility can cover maybe 20-23 per cent of the population by the end of next year,” Okonjo-Iweala said.
Meanwhile it’s worth noting that despite the Pfizer’s COVID-19 already being rolled out in the UK, it’s being said that preserving or transporting the vaccine requires it being stored under -70 Fahrenheits and due to the current state of electricity problem in some countrie in Africa especially Nigeria, many wonder how the preservation will be possible.
However, those from Moderna is said to require little cooling power and can be stored in general fridges which can make the Moderna vaccine a good candidate for hotter regions in Africa.