Nigeria looks to Russia, India for more COVID-19 vaccines

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HEAD of National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHDA), Faisal Shuaib, has said Nigeria expects to receive 100,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine by early February 2021.

  He said while Nigeria would seek to procure vaccines that are less dependent on cooling facilities, talks were in progress with Russia and India to procure such vaccines.

  Shuaib made the disclosure during a tour of cold storage facilities with journalists in Abuja, yesterday.

According to Shuaib, the vaccines will be given to Nigeria through the COVAX programme backed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) that aims to support the fight against the spread of COVID-19.

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   “Our plan now is not to over-invest on ultra cold equipment for vaccines like that of Pfizer vaccines, but go for vaccines that need less cooling facilities. We are currently engaged in talks with Russia and India to get more vaccines,” Shuaib said, restating the target of vaccinating 70% of Nigeria’s 200 million inhabitants within the next two years,” Shuaib said.

  It will be recalled that Pfizer said its vaccine must be stored at temperatures of around -70 degrees Celsius (-112°F) before being sent to distribution centres in specially designed cool boxes filled with dry ice. But some experts have expressed doubts that Nigerian authorities will be able to store and transport the vaccine at such low temperatures.

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  Nigeria’s health minister Osagie Ehanire on Monday said Nigeria had written to the African Union to request for 10 million vaccine doses and approved N10 billion for local vaccine production. He spoke after WHO’s pandemic review panel co-chair Ellen Johnson Sirleaf expressed disappointment with COVID-19 vaccine rollout plans which meant shots would not be widely available in Africa until 2022 or 2023.

  Meanwhile, Nigeria has recorded 113,305 COVID-19 cases which has led to 1,464 deaths, according to the Nigeria Centre of Disease Centre (NCDC). NCDC said 91,200 people have been treated and recovered from the virus.

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