Nigeria has received its first COVID-19 vaccines on Tuesday to kick off an inoculation programme, delivered under the international COVAX scheme.
Nigeria with an average 200 million people took delivery of 3.92 million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.
The feat means that Nigeria is the third West African country to receive COVAX shots, after Ghana and Ivory Coast, which have both started vaccination campaigns.
Boss Mustapha, chairman of Nigeria’s presidential task force on COVID-19 in his reaction to the development, said:
“The successful development of vaccines and the accelerated process for emergency authorisation has brought hope to humanity all over the world”.
Fillers from the government indicated that the vaccination would start with frontline healthcare workers, the highest-priority recipients, in Abuja on March 5, followed by strategic leaders on March 8.
Mustapha said the government expected to receive 84 million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine from COVAX this year, enough to inoculate 20% of the population.
COVAX, led by the vaccine alliance Gavi, and the World Health Organization (WHO), with UNICEF as an implementing partner, aims to deliver nearly 2 billion doses worldwide by the end of 2021.
Peter Hawkins, the Nigeria country representative for UNICEF, said Nigeria’s extensive experience in combatting infectious diseases, most recently the eradication of wild polio, would facilitate the rollout of COVID-19 doses.
“We will use the polio network to be able to ensure that people in the most extreme areas are reached as quickly as possible,” Hawkins said.