President Muhammadu Buhari and his vice, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo will receive their COVID-19 vaccines publicly on Saturday.
This was disclosed by the Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib on Thursday at a news conference in Abuja.
He said the agency would launch the national COVID-19 vaccination campaign on Friday at the National Hospital, Abuja, with Frontline health workers to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine first.
“On Saturday, the plan is to Vaccinate Mr. President and the Vice President and strategic leaders, to demonstrate vaccine safety to the public,” he said.
He said States have requirements and obligations to fulfill before the COVID vaccines would be released to them.
Shuaib stated that they have to demonstrate that they have taken steps to ensure proper storage, security, among others.
“First and most important, the people we are prioritizing for the Covid-19 vaccination are the frontline health workers, who have sacrificed for the country in the last one year,” he said.
Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire said vaccines were an addition to the existing response, not a replacement, saying that “we are not buying vaccines from private sources. It’s too risky. We will only procure from the 3 sources I mentioned earlier: COVAX, AVATT, Bilateral Agreements.”
“We have at least 2 vaccine candidates in Nigeria, but they need resources for clinical trials, & we’re trying to support them in that regard. It will take some time. We are also considering producing existing vaccines locally, under license.
“It is in Nigeria’s interest for not only the entire country to be vaccinated, but also for our neighbouring countries to be vaccinated, because of the free movement protocol. As the WHO has said: No one is safe until everyone is safe,” he said.
Also speaking, Director General, Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, said “today is exactly one year and five days since we identified our first Covid-19 case in Nigeria. With the leadership of Mr. President, Nigeria has actually mounted a very robust response to this pandemic.
“As much as vaccines provide some very important light, the response has to continue – testing, surveillance, protecting health workers, investing in national health security, driving risk communications, etc.”
Ihekweazu said there would be new variants of the Covid-19 virus, saying that Brazil did not identify a new variant by chance, but because they looked for it, adding that Nigeria must and would be similarly deliberate and proactive.
Director General, NAFDAC, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, speaking on Nigeria’s vaccine approval process, said “We depend on the work done by other national drug regulatory agencies, but we also have to look at our own local context and peculiarities. Emphasis on Quality, Safety, Efficacy.
“Falsified Covid vaccines are already in the global market. That’s why NAFDAC is focusing on track-and-trace, to ensure no infiltration of substandard vaccines in supply chain. Traceability is very important; we can trace the vaccines from airport to the patient.”