The World Health Organisation (WHO) has classified Nigeria’s COVID-19 response as the fourth-best in the world.
Dr Walter Mulombo, WHO Country Representative, made this known at an event on the arrival of the first consignment of 177,600 doses of the Johnson and Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine in Abuja, yesterday.
At least 1,173,132 doses of the vaccine, part of the 29.8 million doses obtained by the Federal Government through the African Export-Import Bank, will arrive this month.
Mulombo said: “We are witnessing the symbolic arrival of 177,600 Johnson & Johnson vaccines, another landmark event in Nigeria’s response to COVID-19 pandemic; widely acclaimed by many as one of the most successful so far in the world.
“Nigeria was ranked fourth among the top ten most successful responses to COVID-19.
“WHO had on many occasions, commended the government, including the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC), Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) and National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), for the successful completion of the first phase of the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out with the vaccination of the frontline workers and other priority groups who are at high risk of COVID-19.
“Nigeria’s preparation for the second phase of the COVID-19 vaccination, involving more resources and logistics, is highly commendable.
“These vaccines are safe and effective and will be the game-changer; but for the foreseeable future, we must continue wearing masks, physically distance and avoid crowds.
“J&J vaccine is highly effective against the Delta variant and against severe disease, hospitalisation and death from COVID-19.”
NPHCDA Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer, Dr Faisal Shuaib, said the 177,600 doses of Johnson and Johnson vaccine are part of the 29,850,000 doses procured from the African Union (AU) through the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT) platform.
“The balance of the vaccines will be delivered over the coming months. But we are glad to hear that before the end of August, the total quantity of vaccines that we will be receiving is 1,173,132.
“We have the capacity and capability to store and distribute this vaccine to the point of administration, as we have working freezers in all 36 States plus the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
“The Johnson and Johnson vaccine is stored at temperatures of +2 to +8 degree Celsius, which is the temperature in which most of our routine immunisation vaccines are stored.
“Because it is a one-dose effective vaccine, these doses will be focused on those who are in the hard-to-reach areas, that is, the riverine areas, desert communities, security compromised areas and also the elderly.
“This is because these are people who may find it difficult to leave their homes to the health facilities for the second dose after taking the first one.”
He noted that the government was committed to a safe and equitable vaccination of all qualified persons in the country.
“The availability of different vaccine brands in the country does not mean that some people are being selected for higher quality vaccines while others are targeted for low-quality vaccines.
“All the COVID-19 vaccines approved by the WHO and the NAFDAC are safe and can deliver adequate protection against COVID-19,” he said.
Peter Hawkins, UNICEF Country Representative, emphasized that with the procurement of 28.9 million doses of Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, and the fact that Nigeria will procure more AstraZeneca vaccines next week, there is an urgent need to encourage people to take the jabs.
“I urged religious and traditional leaders to encourage their people to take the vaccine,” he said.
Mr Abdolaye Kone, AFREXIM Bank Chief Operating Officer, Anglophone West Africa, also said: “All AU member states through the AVATT set up in November 2020…will have access to 220 million doses of Johnson and Johnson single shot COVID-19 vaccine with the potential to order an additional 180 million doses.
“The Johnson and Johnson vaccine rollout began in August 2021 with Togo being the first African country to receive the shipment…The target is to deliver almost 50 million vaccines before the end of December 2021. By January 2022, the number of vaccines being released will be in excess of 25 million per month.”
Country Representative of the Africa CDC, Dr Amadu Cisse, noted that the African Export-Import Bank made the vaccines possible through a $2 billion funding facility.
He said: “The Johnson and Johnson vaccine was chosen because as a single-shot vaccine, it is easier and cheaper to administer; the vaccine has a long shelf-life and favourable storage conditions, and is partly manufactured on the African continent, with fill-finish activities taking place in South Africa.”