There are indications that the Federal Government may cough out about N600b to vaccinate 149.9 million Nigerians (about 70 per cent) with two doses of $4 (N2000) for each COVID-19 vaccine by the end of 2022.
It was also gathered that the country may not be able to afford the vaccines by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna because their cost average of $18 per dose would require Nigeria to upgrade her vaccine storage infrastructure from minus 11 to minus 70 degree Celsius.
Pfizer and BioNTech have set the initial price at $19.50 a dose, which comes to $39 per patient (since each vaccine requires a two-dose regimen) in its $1.95 billion contracts with the United States as part of Operation Warp Speed in July 2020. Moderna, a two-dose vaccine, recently announced each dose would go for around $32 to $37.
One of the front-runners in the vaccine race — the one made by Pfizer — needs to be kept extremely cold at minus 70 degrees Celsius, which is colder than winter in Antarctica. Moderna has said that its vaccine needs to be frozen too, but only at minus 20 Celsius, more like a regular freezer.
It was gathered that Nigeria’s current vaccine storage infrastructure could store the drugs at minus 11 degree Celsius. Critics say it will cost the country hundreds of billions of naira to rejig the infrastructure to store these vaccines.
However, it was gathered that at around $3 to $4 per dose, the AstraZeneca-Oxford shot is the cheapest of the three current options and should be easier to distribute globally (since it can be stored in regular refrigerators). That is why lower-income countries around the world have been applying for purchase.
These were corroborated by Minister of State for Health, Dr. Adeleke Mamora, and Director of Immunisation at National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Bassey Okposen, during a webinar on “Status of COVID- 19 Vaccines in Nigeria: Available options and opportunities for public-private partnerships” organised by the Healthcare Federation of Nigeria (HFN).
HFN is an umbrella body for the Nigerian private healthcare sector.
Presenting update on vaccines in Nigeria, Mamora said: “Considering that we don’t have any proven treatment… So our hope is on the vaccines and we discovered that we couldn’t do it on our own. Our work is based on six As- availability, accessibility, affordability, acceptable and administration, and accountability. For example, for the polio vaccines, we discovered that some of them are in the market place. So how did they get there?
“We are trying to acquire COVID-19 vaccines through bilateral and multilateral relationships. We are talking with West Africa community. We are not looking at a vaccine that we will store under minus 70 degrees Celsius. We are looking at other vaccines. We are looking at the issue of delivery, which has to go through all the age groups. We are also looking at the issue of priority- frontline health workers, the elderly, and people of 50 years and above as well as those with co-morbidities.
“We have not decided on which of the vaccines we are choosing. We are not leaving the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) out of the equation to ensure that what we are getting is what will benefit us.
“We are looking at two doses per person at intervals of three weeks. Average price of the vaccine we are likely to choose is $4 per dose, other vaccines are more expensive. We are looking at how the Federal Government will come in to protect Nigerians. We are putting in necessary logistics, funding, and others.”
Okposen said: “We are looking at immunising 149.9 million Nigerians by the end of 2022. We are looking at the private sector for additional resources to expand the cold chain. We plan to vaccinate at least 70 per cent of the population by 2022.”
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