Nigeria has failed to be shortlisted by the World Health Organisation-led COVAX global initiative for the global Pfizer vaccines following the country’s inability to meet the standard requirement of being able to store the vaccines at the required -70 degrees Celsius.
Director, WHO, African Region, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, speaking at a virtual press conference, said only four African countries were shortlisted for the Pfizer vaccine out of the 13 that applied, The PUNCH reports.
This comes as the federal government had stated that it was expected to receive 100,000 doses through the COVAX initiative, which was set up to ensure rapid and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for all countries, regardless of income level.
The four that were shortlisted, are; South Africa, Tunisia, Rwanda and Cape Verde.
Moeti said Nigeria and the eight other African countries will not be getting it yet because WHO could not risk the Pfizer vaccines being wasted.
She said; “Around 320,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine have been allocated to four African countries – Cape Verde, Rwanda, South Africa and Tunisia. This vaccine has received WHO Emergency Use Listing but requires countries to be able to store and distribute doses at minus 70 degrees Celsius.
“To access an initial limited volume of Pfizer vaccine, countries were invited to submit proposals. Thirteen African countries submitted proposals and were evaluated by a multi-agency committee based on current mortality rates, new cases and trends, and the capacity to handle the ultra-cold chain needs of the vaccine.
“This announcement allows countries to fine-tune their planning for COVID-19 immunisation campaigns. We urge African nations to ramp up readiness and finalise their national vaccine deployment plans. Regulatory processes, cold chain systems and distribution plans need to be in place to ensure vaccines are safely expedited from ports of entry to delivery. We can’t afford to waste a single dose.”
The Director-General of the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research, Prof Babatunde Salako, had told this newspaper that there is not enough space at the moment to store the Pfizer vaccines at that temperature.