The federal government on Thursday said it would prioritise health workers and vulnerable Nigerians in its ‘bold’ plans for 20 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine for Nigerians.
Osagie Ehanire, the Minister of Health gave this information at the weekly Presidential briefing on the coronavirus pandemic in Abuja.
He noted that the federal government is going to engage the National Assembly on the proposed vaccine plan, adding that the government would go for what is favourable to Nigerians.
“We’re looking at what is more favourable. There is a hope of vaccinating all Nigerians but we want to start with 20 million doses which we are expecting from the covid-19 facilities beginning with those who are working in the health sector and at most risk and then to vulnerable people.”
The Minister also informed that it has directed isolation and treatment centres to begin preparations for reopening in the wake of a possible second wave of the pandemic.
Ehanire informed that Nigeria recorded 1843 last week against 1,235 two weeks before that and 1,126 the week before that.
“In the past 24 hours, 474 new confirmed cases and 2 deaths were recorded, with an indication that this week’s figure will beat last week’s. As of today, we have crossed the 70,000 marks with a total of 70,669 confirmed cases of which 65,242 have been treated and discharged, he said.
“To prepare ourselves, I have directed that all Isolation and Treatment Centres, which were hitherto closed due to reduced patient load, to be prepared for reopening and the staff complement put on alert”, he added.
According to the minister, the increase in infections stems certainly from rising community transmission to a large extent, but also to a less extent from travellers entering Nigeria.
He said a total of 87 positive cases have been recorded from those arriving in the country, as against 59 in the previous week.
“This number can increase as the volume of travelers rises, especially as people return home for the Christmas and New Year holidays”, he warned.
While the first set of candidate vaccines are ready to be rolled out in Europe and the USA, Ehanire said a Technical Working Group led by the National Primary Health Development Agency is working on the evaluation of prospective vaccines and Nigeria’s vaccine needs.
He added that the ministry of health met with the Ambassador of the UAE to Nigeria, to discuss cooperation in access to vaccine technological and production.
Chikwe Ihekweazu, DG NCDC, regrets that some states are still not testing enough making it difficult to understand the burden of the diseases for effective response.
He listed the states not testing enough to include; Cross Rivers, Jigawa, Kogi, Osun, Ebonyi Adamawa, and Zamfara states.
“It’s important to test, to manage the outbreak and plan for vaccination”, he stressed.
The director-general also noted that the FCT, Lagos, and Kaduna currently has the highest cases so far.
As the year ends and the festive period draws, Ihekweazu again urged Nigerians to maintain the Covid-19 protocols. He particularly advised against mass gatherings.
“The numbers are not looking good and we need to take this very seriously as we plan for the end of the year”, he urged.