Covid-19 Vaccine: Why Nigeria may not have access despite Pfizer breakthrough
By Oludare Mayowa
Nigerian may not have immediate access to the Coronavirus pandemic vaccine despite the breakthrough announced on Monday by the global drugmaker Pfizer, according to the president of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN).
Sam Ohuabunwa, who described the news of Pfizer vaccine breakthrough as a success for the world but worries that Nigerians might wait a little longer to have access to the vaccine since the federal government failed to make early financial commitments to the companies working on the various vaccines.
Ohuabunwa said even when the vaccine is ready, the companies will first satisfy countries and governments who have put down resources to complement their works.
“There is a possibility that with this vaccine the country will be able to access it like any other country, however, our fear is that it will take time for Nigerian to be able to get the vaccine as you are aware that the American government has put down millions of dollars for the companies.
“All the companies that are producing vaccines would want to supply to those that put their money down to help them complete their work before selling to other countries.
“What is also worst is that the procurement especially in the area of this kind of infectious diseases is through donor funding.
“We are going to be waiting for those who put their money down. How I wish I am in the ministry of health.
“If I were the President, I will be looking at how we can put our money down like others did, no matter how small. We cannot be waiting until those who participated in the trail are satisfied and we will now be getting crumbs.
READ RELATED STORY: Exclusive: African Countries Lagging Behind In Covid-19 Vaccine Booking
“It is a good development and it shows that we have got to the point where we can have control over the infection. The vaccine is what is going to help us to control this pandemic.
“I think the virus is going to stay with us for a long time just like those other reoccurring viruses like HIV etc. Therefore it is a major development and by showing this high level of efficacy,” He said.
The vaccine is believed to be a way out of all the restrictions imposed on people around the world.
Nigeria and many other countries imposed restrictions as a means of curbing the spread of COVID-19 that has killed 1,263,787 across the world, according to Worldometer.
The chairman and CEO of Pfizer, Albert Bourla had on Monday announced to the world that: “The first set of results from our Phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trial provides the initial evidence of our vaccine’s ability to prevent COVID-19.
“We are a significant step closer to providing people around the world with a much-needed breakthrough to help bring an end to this global health crisis.
“We are reaching this critical milestone in our vaccine development programme at a time the world needs it most,” Bourla said.
Based on supply projections, the companies said they expect to supply up to 50 million vaccine doses globally in 2020, and up to 1.3 billion doses in 2021.
US biotech firm, Moderna, several state-run Chinese labs, and a European project, led by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca, are thought to be closing in on potentially viable vaccines.
The Phase 3 clinical trial — the final stage — of the new vaccine, BNT162b2, began in late July and has enrolled 43,538 participants to date, 90 percent of whom have received a second dose of the vaccine candidate as of November 8.
Pfizer said it was gathering two months of safety data, following the final dose — a requirement of the US Food and Drug Administration — to qualify for Emergency Use Authorization, which it expects by the third week in November.
A recent study has revealed that low-income nations, including Nigeria, might lose access to COVID-19 vaccine.
Published by a global health innovation centre, Duke, the survey also showed that high-income countries and a few middle-income ones with manufacturing capacity have already purchased nearly 3.8 billion doses, with options for another five billion.
The implication being that these countries would vaccinate their entire population over and over before billions of people get attention in developing nations.
The chief executive of a multinational drugmaker had in August warned that Nigeria and other African countries are yet to make any booking for coronavirus vaccines from any of the global pharmaceutical companies and this may cause them access to the vaccine when it is eventually ready.
The CEO, in an interview with the Global Financial Digest, said Africans are not ready to receive the drug to help protect their citizens from the deadly disease.
“The implication is that while other nations will be getting the vaccine immediately the clinical trial and the production starts, Africa will be left behind on this,” the chief executive told one of our correspondents.
He, however, said some of the drug makers are thinking of providing few of the vaccines to some critically affected Africa country whenever the drug is ready as part of their contributions to rid the world of the dreaded disease.