Nigeria, on Tuesday, March 2, received 3.94 million doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII) and shipped via the COVAX Facility.
The United Nations (UN) system in Nigeria made this pronouncement about the COVID-19 vaccine availability known in Lagos via a media briefing,
known in a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos.
COVAX is co-led by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the World Health Organization (WHO), and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI); working in partnership with UNICEF, the World Bank; civil society organisations; manufacturers, and also others.
The UN system said the arrival marked a historic step towards the goal to ensure equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines globally; in what would be the largest vaccine procurement and supply operation in history.
It said the delivery was part of the first wave of arrivals in Nigeria that would continue in the coming days and weeks.
Edward Kallon, UN Resident Coordinator in Nigeria, reiterated the commitment of the UN to support the vaccination campaign in the country and help contain the spread of the virus.
“The arrival of these vaccines in Abuja today marks a milestone for the COVAX Facility; in its unprecedented effort to deliver at least 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines globally by the end of 2021.
“The arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine will enable the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) to commence the vaccination of Nigerians in priority groups; starting with frontline healthcare workers,” he said.
Thabani Maphosa, Managing Director for Country Programmes at Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, said it was a landmark moment for Nigeria; as well as the COVAX Facility’s mission to help end the acute phase of the pandemic; by enabling equitable access to the vaccines across the world.
“We are glad to see Nigeria is among the first receiving the doses from COVAX; thanks to the excellent level of preparedness put in place by the Government of Nigeria.
“Gavi looks forward to these vaccines being made available to the people most at risk; as soon as possible, and to ensuring that routine immunisation services; for other life-threatening infections are also delivered to avoid other disease outbreaks,” he said.
Also, Dr Walter Kazadi Mulombo, WHO Representative in Nigeria, said it was heart-warming “to witness this epoch-making event.”
“WHO wishes to congratulate the government of Nigeria for its participation in the global vaccine collaboration (COVAX) efforts; as well as its commitment to protecting Nigerians against this pandemic.
“These vaccines have undergone rigorous regulatory processes at global and country level; and have been deemed safe and effective,” Mulombo said.
The UN system in Nigeria said COVAX had built a diverse portfolio of vaccines suitable for a range of settings as well as populations; and was also on track to meet its goal of delivering at least 2 billion doses of vaccine; to participating countries around the globe in 2021.