Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 (PTF) says order of 100,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccines will arrive Nigeria “early February.”
There are however concerns about how PTF will manage both storage and transportation challenges of Pfizer Covid-19 vaccines being imported.
PTF yesterday extended lockdown restrictions imposed a fortnight ago by a further one month, as surge in new cases continues.
This morning, NCDC reported 1,430 cases of Covid-19 infections nationwide, raising total infections in Nigeria to 112,996, with 1,507 deaths.
“In view of the fact that our numbers are not abating, all extant measures … are … extended by one month from Tuesday, January 26, 2020,” PTP said.
PTF said Nigeria’s expected shipment of 100,000 doses will arrive in the early weeks of February, as confirmed by COVAX.
COVAX is a World Health Organisation (WHO) initiative to equitably distribute Covid-19 vaccines and encourage rich nations to produce more.
Can Nigeria manage Pfizer vaccines?
Dr. Faisal Shuaib of the Primary Health Care Development Agency (PHCDA), had announced that Nigeria is importing Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine.
However, the Pfizer vaccine requires storage and transport facilities that can maintain extremely cold temperature of up to -80°C.
Pfizer vaccine also requires two doses to be taken three weeks apart to be fully effective.
There are concerns that with poor storage capacity and power supply, Nigeria will not be able to manage the vaccines.
Shuaibu however says Nigeria found a way out by acquiring three Ultra Cold Chain equipment with total capacity of 2,100 liters.
“So, we have more than enough space for the 100,000 doses of the vaccine that will be brought in the first instance,” he said.
He did not elaborate on how the vaccines will be transported thereafter but says Nigeria is looking beyond Pfizer.
“We will be focusing more on those vaccines that do not require these kinds of complicated cold chain mechanisms.
“So the Oxford-Astrazeneca types of vaccine that require +2 to +8 degrees Celsius are what we are going to be focusing on,” he said.
Bill Gates to the rescue?
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation however says that Pfizer transport and storange challenges are surmountable.
The foundation has donated $250million to be disbursed as grants to organisations to develop vaccines that overcome delivery challenges.
The grants will aid production of vaccines that “only require one dose, have greater temperature stability, or are less expensive to manufacture.”
The Nigerian PTF has volunteered very little information on how the Pfizer vaccine will be transported to the frontlines.
Its focus is on how to convince Nigerians to accept the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine candidate it is importing.
“We wish to assure all Nigerians that the vaccines will be safe and effective when eventually it is deployed.
“We enjoin everyone to join in the campaign to eliminate vaccine hesitancy,” PTF boss, Boss Mustapha pleaded.
Meanwhile, Last night…
A total of 1,430 new cases of #COVID19 were reported last night in Nigeria, as follows:
Lagos-744, Plateau-100, Oyo-77, FCT-75, Nasarawa-74, Katsina-48, Edo-42, Kano-41, Enugu-37, Rivers-34, Ogun-33, Kwara-32, Niger-28, Ebonyi-27, Kaduna-26, Borno-12, Yobe-10, Ekiti-5, and Gombe-1
This brings total infections in Nigeria to 112,996 confirmed cases, with 98,359 discharged and 1,507 deaths.
In the South East, usual suspects Enugu and Ebonyi reported 37 and 27 new cases respectively yesterday 25 January.
No other South East State reported a new case yesterday.