The World Health Organisation (WHO) has explained trending reports on the disqualification of Nigeria from the list of African countries to benefit from the first round of supply of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
According to WHO Regional Director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, Nigeria was disqualified based on the country’s inability to meet the standard requirement of being able to store the vaccines at the required -70 degrees Celsius.
“To access an initial limited volume of Pfizer vaccine, countries were invited to submit proposals.” Moeti said. “Thirteen African countries expressed an interest in participating in the initiative, and their proposals were evaluated based on current mortality rates, new cases and trends and capacities to deliver this vaccine, including to store it at minus 70 degrees Celsius.”
Nigeria had indicated interest in being supplied the vaccine being donated by COVAX, a global alliance against COVID-19.
Last week, Chairman of Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Kayode Fayemi, had said the country has been working with the World Bank to ensure the supply of the vaccine in the country.
“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,” Fayemi had said at the end of a meeting of the forum.
However, at a press conference on COVID-19, Moeti disclosed that only four African countries were captured in the first supply of 320,000 vaccines.
“In addition, around 320,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine have been allocated to four African countries: Cabo Verde, Rwanda, South Africa and Tunisia. Deliveries are also expected later on in February.”
He retaliated that the proposals were evaluated based on the country’s current mortality rates, new cases and trends and capacities to deliver this vaccine, including to store it at minus 70 degrees Celsius.
Although Nigeria is among the African countries with the highest COVID-19 cases recorded, WHO has disqualified the West African country on the first round of COVID-19 vaccine supply.
“I have to say that this was a challenging process as we know all countries want to start vaccinating their populations. The supplies were limited but we are glad that we will have a number of countries start and we look forward to working with the other countries to expand this vaccine delivery.” Moeni expounded.
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), expressed worries on delayed vaccine supplies after the country recorded over 138,000 COVID cases, out of which 1,641 death cases.
Countries across the world have been vaccinating their citizens against the disease but not a single dose of the vaccine has been administered in Nigeria.
Some wealthy Nigerians, including former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, got COVID vaccine abroad.