AS countries of the world frantically race towards securing allocations of COVID-19 vaccine doses as soon as they are available, the Federal Government of Nigeria on Thursday expressed confidence that Nigeria would secure a fair share.
It however criticised the move by some countries to nationalise and politicise vaccine distribution and accessibility, terming it as a failure of global leadership.
The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, made this known during the Presidential Task Force briefing on COVID-19 in Abuja.
He said, “Nigeria is also working with the World Health Organisation (WHO) to finalise enrolment with ACT Accelerator, a global mechanism tracking and sponsoring research organisations working on COVID-19 vaccine development.
“We are also interested in the COVAX facility, a GAVI supported global initiative to procure and ensure equitable access to vaccines, as soon as they are available, especially for Lower and lower middle Income Countries (LMIC). This will prioritise Nigeria for allocation of a part of 2 billion vaccines doses that will be secured, in a special plan to protect the interests of poorer countries.
“The changing dynamics of the virus and the disease make it necessary for us to continue to review our response strategies, ensure we train and update our health workers on the latest and most effective approach to treatment of the disease and tailor our procurement in the light of knowledge gained.
“The information session on COVID-19, conducted weekly by the World Health Organisation (WHO), was held this morning. I had the opportunity of sharing our experience in Nigeria, as one of two countries invited to make presentations on our response strategies.
“A clear message from this briefing is that COVID-19 is a threat to mankind and there is a need for all countries to work together for solutions that will allow equitable access. In the words of the Director- General of WHO, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, ‘by working together, we are protecting each other. In a global pandemic, none of us is safe until all of us are safe.’”
The Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, in a television interview on Tuesday in Abuja, said, “What you see at the moment for a race to a vaccine is a failure of global leadership. Countries should not be fighting for vaccines like children fighting for a toy in a playground.
“When we had a multilateral world, where collaboration and cooperation was the norm, you wouldn’t have seen a fight like this. You would have seen countries come together and agree on an equitable way to access vaccines.
“We must recognise that every man’s life matters and the life of someone living in one part of the world does not have more value than someone living in another part of the world.
“I do not think Nigeria, Ghana, Togo, and South Africa should all be competing, rather we should come together as a bloc. We are also planning very early through the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) for the distribution mechanism. And we are lucky in that aspect actually because we do have a fairly sophisticated distribution mechanism.
“I’m very confident that in the current politicisation of access to vaccines, we will end up in a place where most of the world will come together, even if a few countries insist on doing it alone. If they do it alone, they will pay a price somehow or the other because we live in a global world.”