By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
THE Federal Government Wednesday said that the COVID-19 Vaccine is expected to arrive in the country by January next year.
Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire disclosed this while briefing State House correspondents at the end of tye virtual Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, at the Council Chamber, Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He said that already a technical working group working on the COVID-19 Vaccine has been set up, and that the country has signed up with the World Health Organization, WHO.
According to him, “A technical working group is working on the question on vaccine. We have signed up with the World Health Organisation and Gavi for access to vaccines immediately they are available.
“But you know that these vaccines are new and are in packets and the producers are not given any indemnity. These countries where these vaccines are manufactured, have of course, given themselves the priority to serve themselves, serve their own citizens first and we hope that the pressure from the World Health Organisation and Gavi will be able to get reserves for other countries that are not manufacturing and they will be able to attend to what will signed up to.
“We signed up for advanced market participation in Cobax. So, if we will be able to get our own, I think it will be in January. But there are two types of vaccines. There are those that have to be in ultra deep freezers – the MRA type of vaccines. That is the freezer that must give you Minus 80 percent type of degree.
“There is another type that has to be in the deep freezer of Minus 20 degree which is a deep freezer and there is another type that can be in minus two degree refrigerators. This is the regular refrigerator. The one that will be in regulator refrigerators is easy. We have them here.
“The one that will be in Minus 20 refrigerators is also going to be possible because we also have the freezers here but the one that will be in ultra cold freezers, we hardly have ultra cold freezers in this country and to receive and store in those ultra cold freezers will require that you purchase the ultra cold freezers. So, we are working on the cost.”
He said the one Nigeria would get first will be the one it could afford. “Remember that we have 200 million citizens. We need to have a way to be able to get enough to be able to take care of our citizens. So, that means we must be able to get the vaccines that work well, with good cost of storage and cost of delivery. That is the one we will like to get as soon as they are available.
“We also had bilateral discussions with manufacturers. Some of them have written to us that they want to have discussions with us. One of them, as I speak to you, is already having a discussion with the Ministry of Health and the one that British and Russia team are putting together.
“We are working with them because if we cannot get enough from one source, we should be able to get from other sources. So, we are looking at multiple sources. We had a conversation with United Arab Emirates.
” The ambassador came to see us and told us that they are buying vaccines from China and had tested them. So, they said they are introducing them to us. So, we said we would listen to them because the one that is effective and healthy in those countries and is available is the one we shall bring and that has also proven to be safe.”
He said that he presented some memos to the council which included the setting up modern and comprehensive cancer treatment centers in Maiduguri, improving the mobility for NAFDAC by approving more vehicles for them.
” But the most important topic of the day is the Covid-19 and those who have been watching the briefings for a long time will note that for weeks we have been talking about the imminence of Covid-19 second wave which has been going on in Europe and America causing great embarrassment to the health system and which we have been talking about could be coming into our country is beginning to really manifest.
“We are appealing to all those who have shops, stores, do not allow any person into your store unless that person is wearing a mask. And if youre a buyer do not go and bye anywhere if the seller is not wearing a mask.”