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Primary healthcare agency denies releasing COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan

The chief executive officer of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHDA), Faisal Shuaib, has denied releasing a distribution plan for the expected 100,000 Pfizer vaccines to states of the federation.

Despite evidence that an official of the agency released a breakdown of allocation to states during a webinar last Friday, the CEO is insisting that no official communication of who gets what has been made or finalised.

Bassey Okposen, programme manager, National Emergency Routine Immunisation Coordination Centre, NPHCDA, last week Friday gave a breakdown that reflects Kano, Lagos, Katsina, Kaduna, Bauchi and Oyo receiving the highest doses for essential workers including the health workforce.

According to Okposen, Kano will get 3,557 doses; Lagos 3,131; Katsina 2,361; Kaduna 2,074; Bauchi 1,900; Oyo 1,848; Rivers 1,766; Jigawa 1,712; Niger 1,558; Ogun 1,473; Sokoto 1,468; Benue 1,423; Borno 1,416; Anambra 1,379; Kebbi 1,361; Zamfara 1,336; Rivers 1,306; Imo 1,267; Ondo 1,228; and Akwa Ibom 1,161.

But Shuaib said any communication that has not arisen from his office is not correct.

“I’m surprised to hear that there is any allocation of the vaccines from my office,” Shuaib said on Friday during the morning show on Arise TV.

“We were quoted out of context. People are likely to draw conclusions that are not correct,” he said.

BusinessDay analysis based on the breakdown given by Okposen shows that the allocation plan is not in line with the reality of COVID-19 infection rates in various states.

According to the analysis published January 15, Kano, for instance, which is billed to get the highest allocation of 3,557 doses, has only had 2,491 confirmed cases as of January 13, with 276 currently on admission.

The state is ninth behind Lagos, FCT, Plateau, Kaduna, Oyo, Rivers, Edo and Ogun States in terms of confirmed cases and number of those currently on admission (except for Edo, which has 238). Yet, it is getting more doses than even the total number of cases it has on record and Lagos, the epicenter of the virus transmission in the country.

Katsina with the third-highest vaccine allocation of 2,361 doses is down at number 12 with 1,692 cases out of which only 50 are still on admission. Its vaccine allocation also exceeds the cases ever recorded.

Some state governors have frowned at the distribution plan which, they say, wasn’t communicated to them and are planning to independently acquire their own vaccines from manufacturers.

But Shuaib said work was still ongoing as to the pattern of allocation that the vaccines would take.

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