Nigeria seeks to get coronavirus vaccines through COVAX scheme

Vials with a sticker reading, “COVID-19 / Coronavirus vaccine / Injection only” and a medical syringe are seen in front of a displayed Pfizer logo in this illustration picture.

Nigeria hopes to get 42 million COVID-19 vaccines to cover one-fifth of its population through the global COVAX scheme, said Faisal Shuaib, head of the country’s primary healthcare agency, on Tuesday.

Shuaib said the batch of vaccines would come as part of Nigeria’s plan to inoculate 40% of the population this year, with another 30% in 2022. By the end of January, 100,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are expected to arrive, he said.

The COVAX scheme was set up to provide vaccines to poorer countries such as Nigeria, whose 200 million people and poor infrastructure pose a daunting challenge to medical officials rolling out the vaccinations as the West African country battles a second, larger spike in coronavirus cases.

Nigeria, where officials recorded low coronavirus numbers through much of 2020, had 1,204 new cases on Monday, its highest ever, as total confirmed cases edged closer to 100,000.

Nigeria will first inoculate frontline health workers, first responders, national leaders, people vulnerable to coronavirus and the elderly, Shuaib said during a regular COVID-19 briefing in the capital Abuja.

He also underscored popular resistance to vaccines and said Nigeria must educate people on their importance.

“We fear what we don’t understand,” said Shuaib.

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