COVID-19: Nigeria to stick with AstraZeneca vaccine based on WHO assessment

The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) says Nigeria will stick with AstraZeneca vaccine based on its epidemiological and equity assessment done by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The Executive Director, NPHCDA, Dr Faisal Shuaib, made the disclosure at the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 briefing on Monday in Abuja.

“As earlier communicated, Nigeria is no longer expecting the 100,000 doses of the Pfizer/BIONtech vaccine through the COVAX facility but has been allocated about 16 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

“This was based on epidemiological and equity assessment done by WHO.

“These vaccine will be arriving in batches, starting by late February, “ Shuaib said.

He noted that Nigeria was considered one of the countries ready to receive the Pfizer vaccine but, because the distribution intended to achieve public health value, it was not practical to provide every capable country with the vaccine due to its limited quantity.

“This necessitated further review by a multi-agency committee to narrow down the selection process.This information was disclosed to us by WHO.

“As stated by WHO regional director, a number of factors were considered in allocating the small quantity of 320,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine to 13 countries in Africa.

“These include mortality rate from COVID-19, numbers of new cases, populations of the countries involved and availability of appropriate cold chain equipment,” he said.

According to the official, Nigeria is by no means ahead of countries such as South Africa in terms of mortality or incident rate of COVID-19, and is not the least populated in comparison to the other countries.

“Replacement of the initial 100,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine with 16 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine is in fact a welcome development as it will enable a wider reach of our population and is a better option using our routine cold chain system, though we still have an ultracold chain capacity that would have been able to store more than 400,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine,” he explained.