The Nigerian Government says it is dumping the Pfizer Covid19 vaccine for Astrazeneca, another Covid19 vaccine, with sixteen million doses expected this February.
This is coming a day after the World Health Organization, Africa Regional Director, announced that Nigeria failed to meet the storage capacity criteria, to receive the Pfizer vaccine.
The authorities had promised that the Pfizer vaccine will arrive in the country at the end of January.
Nigeria had announced, through the PTF on COVID19, that it will receive its first supply of the COVID19 vaccine from Pfizer, through the COVAX facility by the end of January.
But strangely, the government came out later to say the vaccine will not arrive until February. The details were not clear at the time, on the reason for the date change.
But this comment by the W.H.O Regional Director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, announcing that only four countries Rwanda, Cape Verde, Tunisia, and South Africa, qualified to receive the Pfizer vaccine seemed to provide clarity on why Nigeria failed to receive the Pfizer vaccine in January.
Nigeria was set to receive the first supply of 100,000 doses.
Among the criteria for countries to receive the limited dose supply, include the capacity to store under the prescribed temperature of minus 80 degrees.
WHO says, Nigeria along with 9 other countries, failed to show its capacity to store the vaccine.
Following Moeti’s comments, the authorities in Nigeria have scampered to counter the claim that it failed the country by not doing its homework properly, even when organizations had raised the alarm that Nigeria cannot store the vaccines.
At a press briefing, the Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Faisal Shuaib says, Nigeria was not delisted from getting the covid-19 vaccine, but that the country will be going for a different one and not the Pfizer/Biotech vaccine.
He went further to state that giving Cape Verde and Rwanda a few doses of Pfizer vaccines would have a larger public health impact, considering their small population size.
The Nigerian government also confirmed that it is dumping the Pfizer/Biotech COVID19 vaccine for the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, with 16million doses expected at the end of February.
The problem, however, is that this particular vaccine has yet to receive the World Health Organisation approval for emergencyuse.
While the Nigerian authorities insist it was not its lack of capacity to store the Pfizer vaccine that made it be delisted from receiving the 100, 000 doses last month, its decision to go for AstraZeneca seems to prove otherwise.
Unlike the Pfizer vaccine that requires storage at the ultra freezing temperature of minus 80 degrees Celsius, the storage temperature for the AstraZeneca vaccine is just 2-4 degrees Celsius, a condition that makes it ideal for most African countries like Nigeria with very poor electricity supply and inadequate storage facilities.
The vaccine boss has assured Nigerians of its determination and commitment in acquiring the covid-19 vaccines that are safe, effective, and available for deployment.