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NATIONAL: ‘SGF, Health minister, others may take vaccine first to assure Nigerians of its safety’

THERE are strong indications that some eminent Nigerians regarded as “strategic leaders” may be vaccinated ahead of other citizens when the expected Covid-19 vaccines arrive the country later in the month.

Those to be accorded priority include the PTF chairman, who is also the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha and Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire among others.

Executive Director of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Faisal Shuaib, disclosed this at a press briefing of PTF on Tuesday.

He included frontline health workers, first responders among those to be accorded priority.

Shuaib noted that according priority to some group of people would allow the agency to prove the safety of the vaccines to Nigerians in public and boost the confidence of the entire country in the process.

The NAPHDA boss said 100,000 doses of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine would be received by the country at the end of this month.

He also said Nigeria would secure free delivery of 42 million doses of vaccines, which would be a combination of all the available and approved vaccines currently in the market.

According to him, the 42 million doses of the vaccines will only cover 20 per cent of the country’s population, which the National Population Commission, recently put at 206 million.

But based on his statement that the 42 million doses of vaccines, which Nigeria would get free of charge, would cover 20 per cent of Nigeria’s population, it means 41.2 million Nigerians would be vaccinated against Covid-19, leaving 164.8 million others unprotected.

Although there are various vaccines, states that Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine costs $19.5 per dose ($39 per two doses).

He said, “When we talked about strategic leaders, we are talking about people like the chairman of the PTF, the Minister of Health and others.

“This is meant to demonstrate to Nigerians the safety of the vaccine by coming out to be part of those to be vaccinated first.

“Like I said earlier, I have also offered to take the vaccine in public to prove that it is safe. Those are the kind of people we are referring to as strategic leaders in this context.”

He said the government already had details of those frontline workers.

On storage, he said enough space was available at the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.

He said because ultra-cool chain equipment was expensive, the government decided to go for vaccines that the country readily had cool chain equipment that could be used to store them.

Shuaib also faulted some virologists quoted to have said it was dangerous to introduce Covid-19 vaccine in Nigeria.

He said there was nothing dangerous about the vaccine which had already been approved by the World Health Organisation.

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