As part of its plan to inoculate at least 40% of its population, the Nigerian government expects to receive its first batch of COVID-19 vaccines by the “end of the month,” Faisal Shuaib, the head of the country's National Primary Health Care Development Agency, said Tuesday. The country also plans to get the vaccine to a further 30% of its population by next year, the BBC reports.
The first batch of expected Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines will contain 100,000 doses and will be acquired through the global vaccine-sharing scheme known as the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access (COVAX) Facility. Shuaib said in a briefing that the country hopes to get 42 million vaccines through the COVAX Facility to cover one-fifth of Nigeria’s population.
Frontline health workers, first responders, the elderly, national leaders, and people who are vulnerable to the coronavirus will receive the vaccine first, according to Shuaib.
COVAX is a global collaboration — co-led by the World Health Organisation (WHO), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) — to help poorer countries gain equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines amidst fears that the economic advantages of wealthier countries could cause a shortage for their less-wealthy counterparts.
New variants of the virus have also emerged on the continent with mutations already confirmed in Nigeria and South Africa.
In the past month, cases have risen in 10 African countries. Algeria, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, and Uganda have reported the highest number of new cases in the past four weeks, accounting for 90% of all infections in Africa.
South Africa has recorded more than 1.1 million COVID-19 cases so far, the highest in the continent.
Nigeria, with its population of 200 million people, has so far recorded close to 100,000 cases. The country hit a record 1,204 new cases on Monday.