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Covid-19: Manufacturers delaying vaccine delivery in Nigeria – Minister

...75 health workers infected in a week as NCDC rolls out rapid test kits

Nigeria’s Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, on Monday said Nigeria is experiencing a delay in receiving the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines because the manufacturers are yet to take decisions on when to deploy the vaccines to the country.

“The date of first arrival of vaccines in Nigeria has kept changing because the decision lies with the manufacturer, who already has heavy commitments”, the Minister said at the briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19.

He however said Nigerians should expect the first roll out of the vaccines as from this Month, but did not specify the date or time.

“According to latest information I have, we have been advised to expect the first COVID-19 vaccines from Covax, to arrive Nigeria as from February. We shall continue to review plans to ensure smooth rollout in our country”, Ehanire said.

Ehanire noted that Nigeria has been allocated over 41million doses by the AU’s African Vaccines Acquisition Task Team AVATT and is expecting 15 of about 42 million doses from COVAX.

” Altogether, it will give us coverage for over 50 percent of our target for 2021, if we can access all doses promised”, he said.

The Minister therefore reiterated the call by the WHO for global equity in the allocation of vaccines, noting that covid19 is a threat to mankind and not only to any country alone.

“Besides, the Director General of the World Health Organization has repeatedly stated that no country is safe till all countries are safe”, he said.

He added, “We have been keeping a strict eye on tbe vaccines scene and those who follow International news would have heard of the scramble for vaccines, which has pitched some countries against each other in Europe, as wealthy high-income countries have pre-paid to allocate vaccines to themselves.

“A spokesperson for the World Health Organization estimated that 95% of vaccines manufactured globally so far has gone to only 10 rich and powerful countries.”

Ehanire further informed that the Ministry of Health’s oxygen strategy has been boosted by the addition of 38 proposed oxygen plants, which is now in procurement process, and will address covid19 treatment centre needs and the long neglected oxygen needs of the health sector, in the post-covid era.

He added that the Global Fund is also on standby to assess existing oxygen plants for repair and reactivation, in the short term.

Mewnwhile, Ehanire said only two companies have submitted the doziers of their vaccines to NAFDAC for evaluation till date.

Chikwe, Ihekweazu, Director General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), announced that the Centre has rolled out the use of Rapid Diagnostic Test Kits (RDTs) in federal hospitals across the FCT.

This is just as he said 75 health workers were infected with COVID-19 in the last week.

Ihekweazu said the RDTs which were rolled out last week will improve the safety of the care hospitals provide for their patients and safety of health care workers through routine testing.

“In the last one week, we had 75 health care workers infected in Nigeria. We are very worried about this, we can reduce this risk For health care workers.

“By rolling RDTs, it will help us understand the infection. It went very well for the last week and our intention is to do this cross the country and across every hospitals to improve the safety of the care they provide for their patients and safety of health care workers through routine testing using RDT kits.

“This will protect our health care workers and improve the index of suspicion for COVID-19 among our health care workers.”

The DG further stressed the need to test every patient who exhibiting symptoms for COVID-19 first before testing for any other disease. He also urged all Nigerians to avoid self medication and get tested when they show symptoms.

“We need to raise our alert level to this diseases, COVID-19 has to be ruled out when patients show up with symptoms related to the virus”, Ihekweazu said.

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