Nigeria may not get Covid-19 vaccines till Q3 2021 despite increase infection
By Oludare Mayowa
As the United States and the United Kingdom (UK) rollout the Pfizer vaccine in their bids to halt the menace of the Coronavirus pandemic, Nigeria and many other African countries may not have access to the vaccination until the third quarter of 2021.
On Sunday, the first of many freezer-packed COVID-19 vaccine vials made their way to distribution sites across the US while UK started the first shot of the Vaccine last week with a 90-year old became the first in the world to receive the vaccination.
However, a top official of a multinational drugmaker in Nigeria said the country and some nations in Africa may not receive the vaccine for now due to the unsuitability of the vaccine for the continent.
According to the official, the Pfizer vaccine required to be preserved under a strict weather condition of -70 freezing level, which is practically impossible to achieve in Nigeria or any other parts of Africa.
Nigeria and other African countries may have to wait for the completion of works on the other vaccine types suitable for the people and temperature, which may not be ready till the third quarter of next year.
The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) had last week said it was considering licensing one of the vaccines under development globally for Covid-19 by end of the first quarter of 2021 or the early part of the second quarter.
“We are looking at the end of the first quarter of next year or the beginning of the second quarter” to approve a shot for use in Nigeria, NAFDAC Director-General Mojisola Adeyeye said in an interview with a foreign news agency.
Nigeria is also expecting to benefit from the World Health Organization (WHO) backed Covax initiative, which is working to improve access to vaccines for 92 low- and medium-income countries, Adeyeye said.
But experts said global drugmakers currently working on vaccines may have to put into consideration the peculiar weather condition in the continent in arriving at suitable vaccination for African countries.
Quick transport is key for the vaccine, especially since the medication must be stored at extremely low temperatures of about 70-90 degrees below zero and African countries may not have such facilities to preserve the vaccine under the required temperature, the experts said.
By Friday, Nigeria has recorded about 72,140 cases of Covid-19 and 1,190 deaths from the illness, cases of the disease have been climbing again this month, with 796 cases registered on Dec. 11 alone.
In spite of the seemingly urgent requirement for vaccination to halt the escalation of the spread, Nigeria is currently not in a hurry to contract drugmakers to enable it to get the medication for its over 200 million population.