Okonjo-Iweala unveils when COVID-19 vaccine will be available in Nigeria

Okonjo-Iweala unveils when COVID-19 vaccine will be available in Nigeria

Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala provided access to COVID-19 vaccines for Nigeria and other African countries from the end of January through the first quarter of 2021.

Okonjo-Iweala quoted a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday following a closed-door meeting in Abuja with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama.

“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.

Okonjo-Iweala is currently the African Union Special Envoy on mobilising international economic support for the continental fight against COVID-19. She is also Nigeria’s candidate for the Office of the Director-General of the World Trade Organization.

She disclosed that the international initiative involved the World Health Organization, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), GAVI and the international community, to get vaccines delivered to developing and poorer countries, in an affordable manner and quickly.

According to her, the Pfizer vaccine and the AstraZeneca were presently being negotiated so that poor countries don’t have to stand in a queue behind rich countries.

The former finance minister described Africans as blessed, for not having the same incidence rate of COVID-19 like other continents, but warned African nations against complacency.

Okonjo-Iweala recalled that a platform called the COVAX facility had been developed with 186 countries on board, saying that the side interested in serving the poor countries had 92 countries, for which resources have been raised to try and get the vaccines to them quickly.

“So, the Pfizer vaccine, the AstraZeneca, those are being negotiated now so that poor countries don’t have to stand in line behind rich countries.

“So, we hope they are starting by the end of January. We will be able to reach these countries, including most of the African countries, Nigeria included, will be able to get access to some of these vaccines.

“Initially, it will be for frontline health workers, followed by some other target groups – older people, those with underlying conditions and then, from there, the rest of the population. I think the COVAX facility can cover maybe 20-23 per cent of the population by the end of next year,” Okonjo-Iweala said.

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