COVID-19: Controversy Engulfs Vaccine Distribution

COVID-19: Controversy Engulfs Vaccine Distribution

Proposed distribution of vaccines among the states of the federation by the Federal Government has been engulfed in a controversy with stakeholders raising concerns over the criteria to be employed for the allocation to states. The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) had in a publication at the weekend announced a distribution plan for

Proposed distribution of vaccines among the states of the federation by the Federal Government has been engulfed in a controversy with stakeholders raising concerns over the criteria to be employed for the allocation to states.

The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) had in a publication at the weekend announced a distribution plan for the Covid-19 vaccine deployment in Nigeria, starting with the 100,000 doses being expected at the end of January.

According to the published document, the vaccines are to be distributed to states as follows: Kano State 3,557; Lagos 3,131; Katsina 2,361; Kaduna 2,074; Bauchi 1,900; Oyo 1,848; Rivers 1,766; Jigawa 1,712; Niger 1,558; Ogun 1,473; Sokoto 1,468; Benue 1,423; Borno 1,416; Anambra 1,379; Zamfara 1,336; Delta 1,306

Others are; Kebbi 1,268; Imo 1,267; Ondo 1,228; Akwa Ibom 1,161; Adamawa 1,129; Edo 1,104; Plateau 1,089; Enugu 1,088; Osun 1,032; Kogi 1,030; Cross River 1,023; Abia 955; Gombe 908; Yobe 842; Ekiti 830; Taraba 830; Kwara 815; Ebonyi 747; Bayelsa 589; FCT 695; Nasarawa 661.

But some states of the federation have denied knowledge of any sharing formula of vaccines stating that such was never discussed with the governors at any forum.

In a swift rebuttal of the allocation formula, the Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib, said the Agency must have been quoted out of context. “People may have drawn conclusions based on working or draft documents. No allocation has been communicated to any state so far”

Dr Shuaib who described the 100,000 doses as a drop in the ocean, further stated that the Presidential Task Force and the Ministry of Health are working towards acquiring millions of doses of the vaccine to cater for up to 150 million people. Another consignment of the vaccine may arrive in Nigeria at the end of the first quarter.

Last year, the Minister for Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire told the Senate that Nigeria was ready for its Covid-19 vaccination strategy and that the government planned to acquire vaccine valued at N400billion. This, he explain would be able to vaccinate 70 percent of Nigeria’s population at $8 per vaccine.

He said Nigeria would need to spend N156 billion in 2021 and another N200 billion in 2022.

But the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said that the Buhari administration did not make any budgetary provision in the 2021 Appropriation for the acquisition of essential therapeutics, including vaccines, even in the face of the heightened anxieties over the second wave of the pandemic in our nation.

“It is indeed the height of leadership failure that the Federal Government has not been able to take a decision on the type and quantity of vaccines expected as well as ancillary facilities and associated logistics” the PDP said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) said it had received reports of the importation of fake COVID-19 vaccine into Nigeria.

NAFDAC Director General, Prof Mojisola Adeyeye, said this while addressing a virtual press conference on Friday. The agency warned against unauthorized orders of the vaccine, adding that it has not received or approved any COVID-19 vaccine from manufacturers for use in the country.

“There are reports of fake vaccines in Nigeria. NAFDAC is begging the public to beware. No COVID-19 vaccines have been approved by NAFDAC”. She warned that fake COVID-19 vaccines can cause COVID-like illnesses or other serious diseases that could kill.

Nigeria cannot produce COVID-19 vaccine at present because of the complex process involved, the Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Faisal Shuaib, has disclosed.

Dr. Shuaib, who spoke at the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 media briefing, explained that producing a vaccine requires huge investment and technologies which are not readily available in Nigeria.

The COVID-19 pandemic is not over, but the availability of vaccines will bring us closer to controlling the acute phase of this pandemic

The National Primary Health Care Development Agency, which is the Federal Government Agency charged with the responsibility for all vaccine matters, is currently working with the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.

There has been a rise in COVID-19 cases since the advent of the second wave. Total number of confirmed cases is 105,478; discharged cases 83,830; deaths 1405 (as at January 14, 2021).

The FG had disclosed that the rate of infection per state/region would determine priority in the distribution of vaccines.

Ayo Aluko-Olokun
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