Nigeria Plans to Roll First Covid-19 Vaccines in February

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By William Clowes and Ruth

Initial doses for health workers in isolation centers

Nigeria targets to vaccinate 70% of population in the long run

Nigeria expects to take delivery of its first coronavirus vaccine doses in February, with health workers, top government officials and vulnerable people to be given priority.

The vaccines, which could be as many as 100,000 doses of Pfizer Inc.’s shot, will be procured through the Covax initiative backed by Gavi the Vaccine Alliance, the World Health Organisation and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, Faisal Shuaib, head of the West African country’s National Primary Health Care Development Agency, said in an interview.

The first batch — enough for a maximum of 50,000 people, equivalent to about 0.00025% of Nigeria’s population — will be allocated to health-care professionals working in Covid-19 isolation centers and those supporting them, as well as the country’s senior political leaders, Shuaib said.

We are waiting for final confirmation from Covax on when the first doses will arrive,” Shuaib said, adding that the “most recent indication is they’re expected in February.” The shots were first expected to arrive in January.

Africa’s most populous country of more than 200 million people plans to vaccinate about 70% of its population in the long run and is working on other options, besides Covax, for supplies.

Nigeria has acquired three ultra-cold freezers to keep the Pfizer vaccines at the required temperature, according to Shuaib.

However, in the longer term, the government plans to invest in vaccines that are easier to store, such as those created by AstraZeneca Plc and the University of Oxford, he said.

(Updates with additional quotes in third paragraph. An earlier version of this story corrected the name of Faisal Shuaib in second paragraph)

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