While many of its citizens are lamenting over the news that Nigeria was excluded from accessing the first phase of covid-19 vaccine because it could not put in place adequate storage facilities as demanded by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the body has said that the country is set to receive the largest allocation of 16million doses out of the 88million AstraZeneca/Oxford allocated to African countries in the first phase by the end of February.
According to WHO’s country representative in Nigeria, Dr Walter Kazadi Mulomboo who made the disclosure at an emergency press briefing in Abuja Saturday evening, the report that Nigeria had been disqualified from accessing COVID-19 vaccines was false.
He said the demand for the initial allocation of 1.2 million Pfizer doses was exceptionally high, adding that COVAX received interests from 72 countries from which 51 countries were considered by the review committee as “ready”.
He said Nigeria is among these countries and 18 countries were finally chosen to receive the initial Pfizer doses.
Dr Walter Kazadi Mulomboo said that- “On the Africa continent, as of the 18th January deadline, COVAX received 13 submissions and a multi-agency committee evaluated the proposals of which nine were recommended as ready to deploy the Pfizer vaccines including Nigeria.
“Unfortunately, it was not feasible to provide each of these 51 countries with Pfizer doses, due to a number of factors including the limited capacity for Pfizer to handle many countries at once. Therefore, spreading the limited doses across all the 51 countries deemed ‘ready’ could have not achieved the intended public health benefit.
“After epidemiological data was taken into account, the decision was taken to proportionally balance the number of self-financing and AMC participants, as well as participants across all six WHO regions.”
It would be recalled that WHO’s regional director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, had said during a press briefing on Thursday that to access an initial limited volume of Pfizer vaccines, countries were invited to submit proposals, adding that 13 African countries submitted proposals and were evaluated by a multi-agency committee based on current mortality rates, new cases and trends and the capacity to handle the ultra-cold chain needs of the vaccine.