More Nigerians to access COVID-19 vaccines as governors to buy additional doses NGF spurns Yahaya Bello’s comment on vaccines

More Nigerians will be able to access the much expected Covid-19 vaccines as the governors of the 36 states say they are taking steps to procure beyond the 42.1 million being currently expected.

Faisal Shuaib, the executive secretary, National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, had said Nigeria was expecting to receive 100,000 doses of Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine by the end of January as well as free delivery of 42 million doses of vaccine later in the year.

While that is still being expected, the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) has set up a team of experts led by Oyewale Tomori to advise the state governors on the procurement and administration of additional Covid-19 vaccines in the country.

The governors stated this in a communiqué’ signed by Kayode Fayemi, governor of Ekiti State and chairman of the NGF, issued at the end of their first meeting in 2021 held virtually on Thursday. The governors in the communique’ seen by Businessday, also dissociated themselves from a statement credited to one of their own, Yahaya Bello of Kogi State, describing it as “ill-fated pronouncement.”

Bello had condemned the use of Covid-19 vaccines when he said: “They want to use the vaccines to introduce the disease that will kill you and us. God forbid”.

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But NGF said, the Forum will continue to be informed and guided by science and will ensure that every decision it takes retains public and professional trust and is not compromised by conflicts of interest.

“The NGF chairman, Kayode Fayemi, briefed state governors on a meeting with Ngozi Okonjo-iweala, chair of the Board of Gavi, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation, on the rollout of the COVAX facility which is a global risk-sharing mechanism co-led by Gavi, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) to facilitate pooled procurement and the equitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccines across developing countries.

Nigeria is among 12 countries in Africa that have indicated readiness of the 92 qualified countries for the facility and will by end of February 2021 receive its first shipment of vaccines.

“The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) has indicated that vaccines will be administered in four phases, based on vaccine type and availability, initially for frontline health workers, then the aged (55yrs and above), persons with underlying medical conditions and other target groups.

According to the communiqué, “The NGF received briefings from three medical experts including Professor Oyewale Tomori, leading virologist and former vice-chancellor of Redeemer’s University, Nigeria; Faisal Shuaib, executive director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA); Pamela Ajayi, founder/managing director, Synlab Nigeria (formerly Pathcare), president, Healthcare Federation of Nigeria and Egbe Dawodu, founding partner of the Anadach Group on the country’s preparedness for the procurement and administration of Covid vaccines and the level of collaboration required from all stakeholders, including the federal, state governments and the private sector.”

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