Former minister of finance Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala assures Nigeria and other African countries access to COVID-19 vaccines from the end of January throughout the first quarter of 2021.

According to the statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday, the former minister made the revelation in Abuja after a closed-door meeting with the minister Geoffrey Onyeama. Okojo-Iweala who is currently the African Union Special Envoy on mobilising international economic support for the continental fight against COVID-19 and Nigeria’s candidate for the Office of the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation said “as long as one person has it in the world, no one is safe. And that is why poorer countries, lower-middle-income countries like Nigeria, need to get it as quickly as possible.

She revealed that the Pfizer vaccine and the AstraZeneca are currently being negotiated to enable poor countries to get the vaccines without standing in line behind rich countries. She also described Africans as “blessed  for not having the same incidence rate of COVID-19 like other continents, but warned African nations against complacency.” Premium Times reports.

Okonjo-Iweala also revealed that a platform called  the COVAX facility had been developed with 186 countries onboard and 92 countries interested in serving the poor countries.

According to Okonjo-Iweala, the international initiative to get vaccines to developing and poorer countries quickly and in an affordable manner involved the World Health Organisation, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), GAVI and the international community

She said:

So, the Pfizer vaccine, the AstraZeneca, those are being negotiated now so that poor countries don’t have to stand in line behind rich countries. So, we hope they are starting by the end of January. We will be able to reach these countries, including most of the African countries, Nigeria included, will be able to get access to some of these vaccines.

Initially, it will be for frontline health workers, followed by some other target groups – older people, those with underlying conditions and then, from there, the rest of the population. I think the COVAX facility can cover maybe 20-23 per cent of the population by the end of next year.

Photo Credit: thewillnigeria.com

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