By Elohor Igbru
Nigeria will not need additional budget of N10.6bn for transporting COVID-19 vaccines around the country’s 774 local government areas and the Federal Capital Territory.
This was made known today by the Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Faisal Shuaib, at the brief ceremony, where President Muhammadu Buhari together with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo Saturday in Abuja received the first doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
President Buhari and Vice President Osinbajo got the jab live on TV, a day after the COVID-19 national vaccine programme commenced with the vaccination of healthcare and frontline workers at the National Hospital, Abuja.
Shuaib explained that Private sector-led Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID), have already undertaken to distribute the vaccines to states at no cost to the government.
He said: “ It doesn’t make any sense that on the one hand, we’ve communicated very clearly to Nigerians that the Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID), a private sector initiative, has provided a cargo plane that will help deliver the vaccines from Abuja to all states that have functional airports.
“For those that do not have functional airports, there is a delivery van that will convey the vaccines from those airports to the states without functionality.
“I do not see how that is going to cost N10 billion. So there is no truth in that information. The truth is what I have told you, which is that CACOVID has taken up the responsibility of delivering the vaccines from Abuja to the states.
The only cost we’re going to incur is the cost of delivering the vaccines from any airport to nearby states that don’t have functional airports. Clearly that cannot be N10.6 billion.
“So I believe that CACOVID has already identified that cost as something they are going to take off. I do not know how much it’s going to cost them, but that is something that they have already identified as a cost they will bear and we’re working together with them.
“So it is not correct to say that the federal government is going to be expending N10.6 billion to transport vaccines to the state. That is incredulous.”
Shuaib also explained the change of plans from receiving Pfizer vaccines to Astrazeneca.
Shuaib: “So what happened was that there was a committee that met at global level, and took the decision that it made more sense for Nigeria to get 16 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccines rather than 100,000 doses of Pfizer.
“Hundred thousand doses of Pfizer is a drop in the ocean and given that the AstraZeneca vaccine is more suited to our cold chain environments; from +2 to +8 °C. Not only do we have the necessary cold chain equipment, but also our health workers have the capacity to manage vaccines of that temperature. So it just makes sense that we should get vaccines that are more suited to Nigeria.”