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COVID-19: Nigeria turns to Russia for vaccines, tackles oxygen crisis

COVID-19: Nigeria turns to Russia for vaccines, tackles oxygen crisis

The Federal Government said it has begun moves to secure the Russian COVID-19 vaccine, Sputnik V, in the wake of international politics regarding the distribution of vaccines.

The government also said it has taken steps to resolve the oxygen crisis that had hit Nigeria’s national response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, who disclosed these during yesterday’s briefing of the Presidential Task Force, PTF, on COVID-19 in Abuja, said: “With regard to vaccines, Nigeria has kept abreast of global developments and supports the call of WHO for fair and equitable distribution of vaccines, since COVID-19 is a threat to mankind.

“We subscribed to two multilateral vaccine access platforms; the first being the COVAX facility that will supply members, including Nigeria, vaccines free of charge, to cover 20% of our population. The expected first wave of 100,000 vaccines derived from this facility.

“There has since been a change that now offers Nigeria 16 million vaccine doses in the first half of the year. The other multilateral platform is the African Union, AVATT, platform — the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team, chaired by the President of South Africa, Mr Ramaphosa. AVATT has acquired 300 million doses of three types of vaccines which have been offered to African countries, based on population, such that no country is left behind. Nigeria subscribes to this whole-of-Africa approach, that strives to ensure that we are safe and our neighbours are safe. We shall be offered over 42 million doses by AVATT. If all the projected vaccines are supplied, we estimate we should have covered over 45% of the population.

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“In addition to the proposed sources, Nigeria has had bilateral negotiations with Gamaleya of Russia over their Sputnik V vaccine, which they are willing to supply to Nigeria. This vaccine has an efficacy of 91%. We are also in talks with the High Commissioner of India over the covax vaccine of Barhat Institute. Both vaccines dossiers are under evaluation with NAFDAC.”

Chairman of the PTF and Secretary to the Government of the Federation SGF, Mr Boss Mustapha, also said Nigeria was exploring all chances in procuring the vaccines.

“Mexico is using the Sputnik. That is why they are applying. Yes, we are members of WHO but we will continue with our bilateral talks with other countries to secure vaccines for our people as quickly as possible.

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