…Nigeria receives first batch of COVID-19 vaccines
The World Health Organisation, WHO, said, yesterday, it was unlikely the COVID-19 pandemic will end in 2021.
“I think it will be very premature and unrealistic to think that we are going to finish with this virus by the end of the year.
“What we can finish with – if we are smart – is hospitalisations, deaths and the tragedy associated with this pandemic,” Mr Michael Ryan, Director of WHO’s health emergencies programme, said at a news conference.
Ryan said WHO’s focus at present was to keep transmissions as low as possible and vaccinate more and more people.
According to him, delivery of vaccine doses has improved compared to 10 weeks ago although there are ‘huge challenges’ in distributing them.
“If the vaccines begin to impact not only on death and hospitalisation, but have a significant impact on transmission dynamics and transmission risk, then I believe we will accelerate toward controlling this pandemic,” Ryan said.
Meanwhile, the first phase of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines arrived the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, yesterday. The vaccines arrived the country aboard Emirates flight, which landed at about noon.
Chairman of the Presidential Task Force, PTF, on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, had said on Saturday that Nigeria will receive its first tranche of about four million doses of the coronavirus vaccines.
On hand to take delivery of the vaccines were top government officials, including the PTF Chairman, Boss Mustapha; Minister for Health, Osagie Ehanire; Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed; and Director-General of Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, Chikwe Ihekweazu.
The Health Minister, Osagie Ehanire, had noted last week that once the vaccines arrive in the country, about 70 per cent of the population was expected to be inoculated within two years.
Ehanire said: “We have been told to open an account with Afreximbank under the African Union; we have done that already successfully because we are going to pay for that part of the vaccine. The COVAX vaccine is free, it is made from donations.
“We want to immunise about 60 to 70 per cent of our population. If COVAX immunises 20, then we have about 40 to 50 to immunise within the next two years. So, we have to pay for that minus any donations that we get like the MTN donation, for example, all those ones reduce the quantities that we have to purchase or any other that in future are given to us free of charge.’’