BFF-34 Nigeria starts virus vaccine roll-out

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NIGERIA-VIRUS-VACCINES

Nigeria starts virus vaccine roll-out

ABUJA, March 5, 2021 (BSS/AFP) – A doctor has on Friday become the first
person in Nigeria to receive a coronavirus jab as Africa’s most populous
country began its vaccine campaign in the capital Abuja.

Nigeria received 3.94 million Oxford/AstraZeneca doses on Tuesday, joining
other countries in Africa to get the shots through Covax, a global scheme to
provide free inoculations.

“Vaccine supply has been a source of global frustration, but the logjam is
starting to break which is great news,” Faisal Shuaib, director of Nigeria’s
primary health care agency (NPHCDA) said in a statement.

Nigeria decided to start vaccinations with frontline workers and support
staff.

“Our frontline workers deserve the same protection as their peers in
Europe and North America and that’s our priority for phase one,” Shuaib said.

The president and vice president are due to receive a shot on Saturday,
government spokesman Garba Shehu told AFP.

The vaccines made by the Serum Institute of India are the first of 16
million shots that Covax plans to deliver to the country over the coming
months.

Nigeria said it aimed to inoculate 70 percent of its adult population of
200 million people over the next two years.

A self-registration portal online was launched to try ease the roll-out
but the country faces immense security and logistics challenges.

“Our teams have done an enormous amount of work to prepare for vaccine
arrival… we know how to do this,” Shuaib said, adding the country had
“recent experience in successful, large-scale vaccination against polio which
included overcoming infrastructure and logistics challenges, as well as
hesitancy sentiments.”

The West African country has recorded 157,671 cases and 1,951 deaths since
the start of the pandemic, though the figures are considered underestimated
given the low number of tests administered.

A new virus variant has also been discovered in Nigeria, but researchers
have not yet determined if it is more contagious or deadly than the original
strain.

Richer countries have surged ahead with vaccinations, but many poorer
countries are still awaiting deliveries, prompting the World Health
Organization (WHO) to warn that the crisis cannot end unless everyone can
inoculate their populations.

The Covax facility, an initiative led by Gavi the Vaccine Alliance, WHO
and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) with UNICEF as
implementing partner, aims to deliver two billion doses by the end of the
year.

BSS/AFP/ARS/2031 hrs