New Telegraph

BUA secures 1m vaccine doses, FG rolls out deployment plan

BUA Plc. has paid for one million doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines worth about N1.52 billion ($4 million) at N1,520 ($4) per dose for Nigeria through the AFREXIM Vaccine programme in partnership with CACOVID.


The doses of the vaccine, which should be delivered by next week, will be the first delivery of vaccines to Nigeria since the COVID-19 vaccines became available.


This is as the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 has announced the discovery of 13 cases of the dangerous B117 variant strain of the disease in Nigeria.


The B117 strain, which kills within short period of time, emanates from the United Kingdom (UK). BUA said the vaccines will be distributed free to Nigerians at no cost. Speaking on this development, Founder of BUA, Abdul Samad Rabiu thanked the President of the Afrexim Bank, Dr. Benedict Oramah, for making the purchase possible and the Nigerian Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele, for coordinating the process through the CACOVID Private Sector partnership.


According to him, “BUA decided to secure these one million vaccines by paying the full amount for the vaccines today because these vaccines became available only last week through AFREXIM. We expect the vaccines to be delivered within the next 14 days and hope priority will be given to our frontline workers who have committed their lives to managing the pandemic.


“In addition to this, BUA is committing to purchasing five million doses for Nigeria as soon as they become available through this same arrangement.” This development effectively pushes Africa’s most populous nation to the front of the queue in vaccine procurement.


Chairman of PTF, Boss Mustapha, who spoke at a briefing in Abuja yesterday, said six out of the 13 B117 strain were detected in the last one week and they all came out of samples collected between November and January.


He said: “The PTF (through the NCDC) is working with the Africa CDC on genomic surveillance. A total of 13 B117 variant strain have so far been detected in Nigeria.


Six out of these numbers were detected in the last one week and they all came out of samples collected between November and January.” Mustapha also reeled out vaccines deployment strategy for the inoculation of the people on arrival of the remedy later this month.


The PTF, which equally gave an assurance that about 45 per cent of the nation’s estimated 200 million population would get inoculated within the year, also allayed the fears of dearth of logistics by maintaining that ultra-cold freezers to keep the vaccines were readily available.


Responding to speculations that the country had been barred by the World Health Organisation (WHO) from accessing the COVID- 19 vaccines, Mustapha said: “The PTF similarly wishes to firmly restate that Nigeria was never disqualified from accessing the COVID-19 vaccine.


The PTF has debunked the story and so did the WHO. Misinformation of Nigerians in any form or shape will be counterproductive and dangerous to our health, security and economy. Confidence in the vaccine is reaffirmed and access is reassured.” Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, spoke on elaborate deployment strategy for the vaccines whenever it arrives the country.


This strategy include: the target group will consist of essential frontline health workers, comprising up to 0.25% of the total population; the elderly, who form a disproportionate percentage of the fatalities and citizens with vulnerabilities.


“Nigeria has made elaborate plans and microplans to roll out COVID-19 vaccination and address any gaps in financing an early rollout activity. National Primary Health Care Development Agency is on top of this programme to deliver the vaccines, in collaboration with state governments,” he added.


Ehanire said that the challenge of dearth of oxygen had been addressed. He disclosed that two oxygen plants at the National Hospital Abuja had been repaired through the Federal Government intervention and commended the intervention of the private sector, which have ensured that large quantities of oxygen cylinders are delivered to treatment centres as needed.


This, he said, has improved availability of oxygen for the management of critical COVID-19 cases, as well as treatment of other illnesses that depend on oxygen supplementation, such as asthma and pneumonia.


On vaccines, he said: “With regard to vaccines, Nigeria has kept abreast of global development and supports the call of WHO for fair and equitable distribution of vaccines, since COVID-19 is a threat to mankind. We subscribed to two multilateral vaccine access platforms; the first being the Covax facility that will supply members, including Nigeria, vaccines free of charge, to cover 20% of our population.


The expected first wave of 100,000 vaccines derived from this facility. “There has since been a change that now offers Nigeria 16 million vaccine doses in the first half of the year.


The other multilateral platform is the African Union AVATT platform, the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team, chaired by the President of South Africa, Mr. Ramaphosa. AVATT has acquired 300 million doses of three types of vaccines which have been offered to African countries, based on population, such that no country is left behind.


“Nigeria subscribes to this whole-of-Africa approach that strives to ensure that we are safe and our neighbours are safe. We shall be offered over 42 million doses by AVATT. If all the projected vaccines are supplied, we estimate we should have covered over 45% of the population.


“In addition to the proposed  sources, Nigeria has had bilateral negotiations with Gamaleya of Russia over their Sputnik V vaccine, which they are willing to supply to Nigeria.


This vaccine has an efficacy of 91%. We are also in talks with the High Commissioner of India over the Covax vaccine of Barhat Institute. Both vaccines dossiers are under evaluation with NAFDAC.


“I must here request viewers and readers to disregard the news over the weekend that Nigeria was “disqualified” from a vaccine allocation.


This is false, Nigeria has ultra-cold (minus 80oC) freezers in strategic stores in Lagos, Abuja and Bauchi, with space to hold over 400,000 doses of vaccines, more than the 320,000 doses WHO Afro had offered.


Those vaccines had been reserved for countries with very high burden, to which Nigeria did not belong.” Notwithstanding the expectation of vaccines for the dreaded disease, the minister insisted that nonpharmaceutical measure still remains the best in confronting COVID-19.

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