COVID-19: Nigeria to get vaccine by ‘end of the month’

Nigeria expects to get its first batch of Covid-19 vaccines by the end of this month as part of its plan to inoculate 40% of the population this year and a further 30% next year, the head of the country’s primary healthcare agency, Faisal Shuaib, has said.

The first batch would contain 100,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, obtained through the global vaccine-sharing scheme known as Covax.

Nigeria will first inoculate frontline health workers, first responders, national leaders, people vulnerable to coronavirus, and the elderly, Mr. Shuaib said.

The country hopes to get 42 million vaccines to cover one-fifth of its population through the scheme, Mr. Shuaib added.

The World Health Organization set up the Covax scheme to help poorer countries obtain Covid-19 vaccines amid widespread concerns that wealthier nations would snap them up.

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa said last week that the country expected to get vaccines through Covax scheme by the second quarter of 2021, following the initial payment of 283 million rands ($19.3; £14.1m).

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize subsequently said that the government was also in talks with private pharmaceutical companies to obtain vaccines by next month.

South Africa’s government has been under intense pressure to roll out an inoculation program following the discovery of a fast-spreading variant of the virus.

South Africa has recorded more than 1.1 million Covid-19 cases, the highest in Africa.

Nigeria has so far recorded close to 100,000 cases. More than 1,200 new cases were recorded on Monday, its highest ever.

Nigeria has a population of about 200 million, the biggest in Africa.

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