Nigerians won’t pay for COVID-19 vaccine -PTF chairman

Tessy Igomu

National Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Sani Aliyu, says the COVID-19 vaccine will be administered to Nigerians free of charge by the time vaccination begins.

He disclosed this during an interview on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, on Wednesday.

The PTF coordinator said approval has been given by the presidency to that effect, noting that the COVID-19 vaccine will be available in Nigeria on the platform of the GAVI arrangement.

Aliyu said, “Yesterday, the President gave the PTF the mandate to proceed with preparations with regard to the vaccine.

“The President has also given us a marching order that the COVID-19 vaccine be made available in Nigeria.

“The COVID-19 vaccine will be available in Nigeria making use of the GAVI arrangement.

“We already have the assurance that we will have 20 per cent of our population accommodated by GAVI, which is about 40 million Nigerians.

“They won’t need to pay for that (the vaccine).”

The PTF coordinator noted that there are fears that Nigerians may be reluctant to be vaccinated, but that efforts are ongoing to sensitise the populace and deliver the vaccines across the country.

“We have continued to work with the Federal Ministry of Health and Primary Healthcare Development Agency.

“The NPHCDA has a lot of experience in delivering vaccines across the country.

“They were involved with the polio vaccination and even at the moment, they are responsible for the delivery of the growth in child vaccination across the country, so they have a lot of experience.

“A lot of work is going on behind the scene. The NPHCDA has a committee, the Minister has set up an advisory committee and the PTF is now coming in to make sure we coordinate effectively.

“The biggest challenge we will have with the vaccine is not going to be the logistics.

“The biggest challenge will be the public acceptance of the safety of the vaccines and allowing themselves to be vaccinated.

“The challenge will be very similar to the one we have with polio,” Aliyu said.

Recall that in August, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, said the Federal Government is working with global health and research organisations developing COVID-19 vaccines to get a part of the COVAX Facility and Gavi-supported 2 billion vaccine doses as soon as they are available.

He said Nigeria is also working with the World Health Organisation to finalise enrolment with the “ACT – Access To COVID-19 Tools Accelerator, a global mechanism tracking and sponsoring global organisations working on COVID-19 vaccine development.

According to Ehanire, “We also have an interest in the COVAX Facility, which is a Gavi-supported initiative to procure and assure equitable access to vaccines as soon as they are available, especially for lower-income countries.

“This will prioritise Nigeria for allocation of a part of 2 billion vaccine doses that will be secured in a special plan to protect the interest of poorer countries.”

Also, Nigeria’s former Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala had reassured Nigeria and other African countries of access to COVID-19 vaccines from the end of January through the first quarter of 2021.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs quoted Okonjo-Iweala as disclosing this after a closed-door meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, in Abuja.

“As long as one person has it in the world, no one is safe. And that is why poorer countries, lower-middle-income countries like Nigeria, need to get it as quickly as possible,” she was quoted as saying.

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