Nigeria expects second batch of COVID-19 vaccines in July

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Nigeria is expecting its second stock of 3.92 million doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines from COVAX by the end of July, the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, NPHCDA, has announced.

The Executive Director,NPHCDA, Dr. Faisal Shuaib,at a press briefing on Tuesday in Abuja, said the administration of the first batch of COVID- 19 vaccine will close by June 25.

Nigeria received its first consignment of 3.92 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine through the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Assess Facility in March, this year.

COVAX, an initiative co-led by the vaccine alliance, GAVI and the World Health Organisation aims to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines by dividing about two billion doses across 92 low and middle-income countries.

The facility promises access to vaccines for up to 20 per cent of participating countries’ population with an initial supply beginning in the first quarter of the year to immunise three per cent of their populations.

“We now have information that Nigeria will get 3.92m doses of Oxford-Astrazeneca by end of July or early August, 2021.

“As we receive additional information on the exact dates in August, we will provide an update regarding timelines and details of this,” Shuaib said.

The NPHCDA boss stated that a recent research from Public Health England  shows that the Indian (Delta) variant B.1.617.2 was 92 per cent susceptible to Oxford/Astrazeneca.

“It is therefore comforting to know that the vaccine used in Nigeria can protect against this variant that caused high morbidity and mortality in India.

“However, it underscores the need for us to ramp up our vaccination to more Nigerians,” he stressed.

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He urged Nigerians who have received their first dose at  least six weeks ago to visit the nearest vaccination site to receive their  second dose, for  full protection against COVID-19 on or before June, 25 when the administration of the second dose will close.

“Recall that we officially closed the vaccination for the first dose on May 24, 2021. Since then, we have been inundated with request by Nigerians to be vaccinated. In response, we have decided to reopen vaccination for the first dose from today.

“This means anyone 18 years and above who has not been vaccinated should visit the nearest vaccination site for the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine. For such persons, their second dose will be due in 12 weeks and by then we would have received the next consignment of vaccines,” he stated.

Shuaib said that Nigerians must continue to take precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“I want to ensure that everyone is aware that there has been a rise in COVID-19 cases in several African countries recently. Wearing a face covering over your nose and mouth in public spaces can save lives.

“A curfew remains in place from midnight until 4am every day. Indoor gatherings must be limited to 50 people, and are only permitted if all attendees abide by social distancing and wear face masks. And the government has introduced restrictions on incoming travel from high-risk countries and quarantine requirements to keep Nigerians safe,” he urged.

The World Health Organisation representative in Nigeria, Dr Walter Kazadi said the threat of a third wave of COVID-19 was real and was raising in the African Region, including Nigeria.

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Kazadi advocated a rapid rollout of COVID-19 vaccines while intensifying the COVID-19 preventive measures such as physical distancing, wearing a mask, keeping rooms well ventilated, avoiding crowds, cleaning your hands, and coughing into a bent elbow or tissue.

UNICEF  representative in Nigeria, Dr Peter Hawkins explained that global supply chain for vaccines was limited.

Hawkins, who was represented by, Dr. Gupta Gagan, called on all health workers, essential workers and people with comorbidity  to ensure that they get vaccinated as the country reopens administration of first doses.

“Do not miss this opportunity, you are much more at risk because of your profession and exposure and you are critical to continue the service delivery, this is another opportunity for you.

“And to those that have taken the first dose please ensure that you complete your immunization by taking the second dose, if you don’t take the second  dose,  you do not only put yourself at risk but deprive other Nigerians of the vaccination from COVID-19.  So please reach out to your nearest centre and take your second dose, he pleaded.

Nigeria on March 21 received another 300,000 doses of the same vaccine from telecom giant, MTN.

On April 6, the government of India also delivered 100,000 doses of Covishield vaccines to Nigeria bringing the total number of vaccines in stock to about 4.4million.