WHO Disqualifies Nigeria In Bid For Pfizer Vaccine, Cites Storage IncapabilitiesFebruary 6, 2021
WHO Disqualifies Nigeria In Bid For Pfizer Vaccine, Cites Storage Incapabilities
World Health Organisation (WHO) has disqualified Nigeria in the first round of supply of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
Nigeria had submitted a proposal to be supplied the vaccine being donated by COVAX, the global alliance against COVID-19.
It stated that it was expecting to receive 100,000 doses through the COVAX initiative, which was set up to ensure rapid and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for all countries, regardless of income level.
However, the major concern has been its lack of storage capacity, although the country had reportedly acquired three ultra-cold freezers in anticipation of the vaccine’s arrival.
In latest development, Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, has said Nigeria and some other African counties were disqualified following their inability to meet the standard requirement of being able to store the vaccines at the required minus 70 degrees Celsius.
Nigeria failed to make any provision in the 2021 budget to fund the acquisition of COVID-19 vaccines.
Speaking at a virtual press conference, Moeti revealed that only four African countries were eligible for the first supply of 320,000 vaccines out of the 13 that expressed interest.
Moeti said WHO could not risk the Pfizer vaccines being wasted, stressing;
Around 320,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine have been allocated to four African countries – Cape Verde, Rwanda, South Africa and Tunisia. This vaccine has received WHO Emergency Use Listing but requires countries to be able to store and distribute doses at minus 70 degrees Celsius.
To access an initial limited volume of Pfizer vaccine, countries were invited to submit proposals. Thirteen African countries submitted proposals and were evaluated by a multi-agency committee based on current mortality rates, new cases and trends, and capacities to deliver this vaccine, including to store it at minus 70 degrees Celsius.
This announcement allows countries to fine-tune their planning for COVID-19 immunisation campaigns. We urge African nations to ramp up readiness and finalise their national vaccine deployment plans. Regulatory processes, cold chain systems and distribution plans need to be in place to ensure vaccines are safely expedited from ports of entry to delivery. We can’t afford to waste a single dose.
I have to say that this was a challenging process as we know all countries want to start vaccinating their populations. The supplies were limited but we are glad that we will have a number of countries start and we look forward to working with the other countries to expand this vaccine delivery.
The disqualification is a heavy blow on Nigeria’s plan to vaccine its citizens against COVID-19 which has already killed 1,640 out of the 138,000 infected person.
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Only recently, Faisal Shuaib, executive director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), said the country is anticipating the arrival of the Pfizer vaccine “in the coming weeks” not knowing what lies ahead