Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Faisal Shuaib, dismissed the reports after a ceremony, where President Muhammadu Buhari, joined by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, yesterday, in Abuja, received the first doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
Buhari and Osinbajo received the jab publicly, 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 the private sector-led Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) has already undertaken the distribution of the vaccines to states at no cost to the government.
He said: “I’m hearing this from you for the first time. It doesn’t make any sense that on the one hand, we’ve communicated very clearly to Nigerians that 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 N10b. So, there is no truth in that information…
“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 N10.6b.”
Asked to reveal the actual cost, he said, “You can do the math on the back of an envelope and you know that it cannot be anything close to a billion naira.
“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…”
Concerning the latest development on the 100,000 doses of Pfizer vaccines, the NPHCDA boss said: “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 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, which is from +2 to +8 °C. Not only do we have the necessary cold-chain equipment, but our health workers also 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.”
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