The Head of the EU delegation to Nigeria
The Ambassador of Spain to Nigeria
The Ambassadors of Austria, Greece, and Sweden
The Country Representative of WHO and UNICEF
Directors and Staff of NPHCDA,
Members of the Press
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen
- Your Excellencies, Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I thank you all for honoring our invitation to this very important event.
- I want to recognize the leadership displayed by the Ambassador of Spain, the European Union Ambassador, and Ambassadors from the Team Europe Initiative that have contributed in no small measure to ensuring equity in the access to COVID-19 vaccines, especially for low- and middle-income countries like Nigeria.
- It is in furtherance of this initiative and the commitment of the Government of Spain that we are here today to officially receive, on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria, four million, four hundred thousand (4,400,000) doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines donated by the Government and people of Spain to Nigeria. Muchas Gracias!
- Your Excellency Ambassador Juan Ignatio Sell, I must let you know that this donation came when it is most needed as we are rapidly ramping up our full vaccination coverage. The single-dose regimen of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will enable us to move rapidly towards achieving herd immunity.
- As of today, the 24th of May 2022, 29,651,708 eligible persons have received the 1st dose of the COVID-19 vaccines, and this represents 23.4% of our eligible population. 14,179,966 persons have received the 2nd dose and 17,702,018 are fully vaccinated and represent 15.8% of our eligible population. 1,178,604 persons have received the booster dose.
- Your Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, these figures show that we are a far cry from our target of 70% of our eligible population. However, these donations will help towards achieving our target.
- If we keep up with vaccination, the likely scenario is that even though the virus continues to evolve, the severity of the disease will reduce over time, as the immunity increases due to vaccination. But If the majority of our eligible population in Nigeria and globally continue to remain unvaccinated, what we may see is that a more virulent and highly transmissible variant could emerge, sooner or later which would be worse than any variant seen.
- New estimates from the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that the full death toll associated directly or indirectly with the COVID-19 pandemic which is described as excess mortality, between 1 January 2020 and 31 December 2021 globally was approximately 15 million (range 13.3 million to 16.6 million). This means that we lost about 15million persons globally within two years as a result of the pandemic. This is heart-wrenching.
- Also, a few weeks back a country which had closed its borders and had refused to accept international assistance finally announced to the world that they were having about 200,000 cases of COVID-19 per day. We all know that a number of these cases could have been avoided if the vaccines were made available to its citizens.
- We would like all Nigerians to know that the COVID-19 vaccines are available, they are free and they are effective.
- Vaccines don’t save lives, vaccinations save lives! A vaccine is of no benefit if it sits on the shelf and does not actually get deployed or if the arms of the eligible population are not available for vaccination.
- I therefore urge all persons aged 18 years and above including pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers who are yet to receive their COVID-19 vaccines or who are due for their second or booster dose to visit the nearest health facility and get vaccinated.
- Striving to vaccinate 70% of the eligible population of every country remains essential for bringing the pandemic under control and Nigeria is working hard to ensure its citizens has access to the lifesaving vaccines.
- For those who feel they can easily recover from COVID-19 if contracted, yes this is possible but for some who get this virus, they may recover from the acute phase of the infection but still have long term side effects of this disease. This is known as “long COVID” which has a significant impact on the quality of lives of people affected by it. The syndrome is defined by persistent symptoms such as tiredness, palpitations, shortness of breath, muscle fatigue, chronic cough, lack of sleep and brain fog found 12 weeks after the initial infection. The functional impairment associated with long COVID has significant social, psychological and economic effects on individuals and the communities. In addition, management of this syndrome is likely to continue to be an additional burden on the already heavily strained healthcare systems.
- We will continue to work with all stakeholders, partners and communities to ensure an inclusive COVID-19 vaccination campaign in Nigeria. To improve access, we have integrated COVID-19 vaccination with routine immunization and other primary health care (PHC) services. This means that parents and caregivers can take along their children when going for their COVID-19 vaccination as childhood vaccines have been prepositioned for vaccination of children against childhood killer diseases at health facilities and other COVID-19 vaccination sites. Also, PHC services such as blood pressure checks and assessment for diabetes are available for adults.
- Permit me to sincerely appreciate our visionary leader, His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari for providing the enabling environment and resources for us to actualize our plans of vaccinating Nigerians against COVID-19.
- I commend the guidance of the Chairman of Presidential Steering Committee and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha and the Honourable Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire who have ensured that Mr President’s vision is effectively translated into impactful action.
- On behalf of the Government and people of Nigeria, I want to sincerely thank the Government of Spain and the European Union for this support to Nigeria as we collectively work towards a world without COVID-19. We thank our partners and donors for their sustained support.
- To our health workers, I thank you for the incredible work you are doing to ensure the rest of us are protected against COVID-19. I urge not to rest on your oars until we achieve herd immunity.
- I thank you all most sincerely for finding the time to witness this important occasion.
- God bless you all!!
- God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria!!
Dr. Faisal Shuaib