By Salim Yunusa

The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) has announced that Nigeria is to receive 3.92 million additional doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines from COVAX, by the end of July 2021.

The Executive Director, NPHCDA, Dr. Faisal Shuaib, made the announcement at a press briefing on Tuesday, in Abuja.

The News Agency Of Nigeria (NAN) recalled that Nigeria received its first consignment of 3.92 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine through the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Assess Facility, COVAX, on March 2, 2021.

COVAX, an initiative co-led by the vaccine alliance, GAVI, and the World Health Organisation (WHO), aims to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, by dividing about two billion doses across 92 low and middle-income countries.

The facility promises access to vaccines for up to 20 per cent of participating countries’ population with an initial supply beginning in the first quarter of the year, to immunise three per cent of their populations.

“We now have information that Nigeria will get 3.92m doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca by the end of July or early August, 2021.

“As we receive additional information on the exact dates in August, we will provide an update regarding timelines and details of this,” Shuaib said.

The NPHCDA boss stated that a recent research from Public Health England (PHE) shows that the Indian (Delta) variant B.1.617.2 was 92 per cent susceptible to Oxford/AstraZeneca.

“It is, therefore, comforting to know that the vaccine used in Nigeria can protect against this variant that caused high morbidity and mortality in India.

“However, it underscores the need for us to ramp up our vaccination to more Nigerians,” he stressed.

”I, therefore, urge all Nigerians who have received their first dose at least six weeks ago to visit the nearest vaccination site to receive their second dose, for full protection against COVID-19 on or before June, 25 when we shall close the administration of the second dose.

“Recall that we officially closed the vaccination for the first dose on May 24, 2021. Since then, we have been inundated with requests by Nigerians to be vaccinated. In response, we have decided to reopen vaccination for the first dose from today.

“This means anyone 18 years and above, who has not been vaccinated should visit the nearest vaccination site for the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

”For such persons, their second dose will be due in 12 weeks and by then we would have received the next consignment of vaccines,” Shuaib stated.

Shuaib, who urged Nigerians to continue to take precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 said: “I want to ensure that everyone is aware that there has been a rise in COVID-19 cases in several African countries recently. Wearing a face covering over your nose and mouth in public spaces can save lives.

“A curfew remains in place from midnight until 4am every day. Indoor gatherings must be limited to 50 people, and are only permitted if all attendees abide by social distancing and wear face masks.

”And the government has introduced restrictions on incoming travel from high-risk countries and quarantine requirements to keep Nigerians safe,” he urged.

Shuaib added that with a virus like COVID-19, Nigerians must do their part to keep their communities safe.

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