Good afternoon distinguished members of the press, and welcome once again to the Presidential Steering Committee’s update on COVID-19 vaccination in Nigeria.

In the last few weeks, we focused our attention largely on creating awareness around second dose and reopening of first dose administration along with vaccine rationalization in the states. This was to ensure that those who received their first dose of the vaccine go out and get their second dose for maximum protection. In the same vein, eligible people who are yet to be vaccinated at all, have the opportunity to receive their first dose.

You may recall that a total of 4,024,000 doses of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine were received by the Federal Government of Nigeria in March 2021; 924 million through the COVAX facility and another 100,000 doses from the Government of India. I am glad to inform you that 3,441,146 doses have so far been utilized for the 1st and 2nd dose vaccinations, which is approximately 88% of the total AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine stock in the country. As at today, the breakdown of the number of people vaccinated and the vaccine consumption is as follows:

  1. 2,265,805 people vaccinated with the first dose
  2. 1,175,341 people vaccinated with the second dose
  3. (88%) vaccine doses have been used

Based on these data and comparative information from other countries, Nigeria continues to have the highest vaccination rates in Africa with approximately 87,000 people being vaccinated daily. Egypt, South Africa, Ghana and Senegal each have a daily vaccination rates of 72,000, 52,600, 12,100 and 4,790 respectively.

It is pertinent to note that as of today, there is no vaccine with the expiration date of June 28th that has not been utilized, which means that there is currently zero balance of such vaccines in the country. Again, this is to demonstrate our commitment to ensuring that only safe and potent COVID-19 vaccines are administered to Nigerians.

Although, we have had reported cases of mild, moderate and severe reactions since our COVID-19 vaccination roll out in March 2021. 125 Severe AEFI cases were reported while 13,663 mild to moderate cases were reported. These are often expected reactions from normal vaccination and people who experienced any of these have recovered fully and are doing well. More pleasing to mention is that with over 3million people vaccinated, Nigeria has not recorded any death case directly linked with Adverse Event Following Immunization (AEFI).

For clarity, the World Health Organization (WHO) has described the term Adverse Event Following Immunization (AEFI) “as any untoward medical occurrence which follows immunization, and which does not necessarily have a causal relationship with the usage of the vaccine.”

As you may be aware, we are working closely with NAFDAC and NCDC to determine whether such medical incidences are connected to the vaccination. There is also the MED-SAFETY App which is available free for download on Play store for Android devices and Apple Store for IOS devices, whereby people can report vaccine side effects for themselves or on behalf of others and will receive timely response.

While we are vigilant that no expired vaccines are used in Nigeria, we advise all eligible people (18 years and above) to take advantage of the opportunity offered in the reopening of first dose administration so that they get vaccinated against COVID-19. We are equally calling on those who received their first dose not later than May 17th and are yet to take their second dose to make themselves available for their second dose in order to be fully protected against the disease. Please note that this vaccination phase will close on the 5th of July, 2021 and people are requested to go for their vaccination between now and July 5th.

Furthermore, provision has been made for people who may have taken their first dose of the vaccine outside the country and want to take the second dose back home. They can go to any designated health facility nearest to them to receive their jab, as we have informed our Health workers not to turn them back.

As part of the global effort to rapidly halt the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide, the United States of America has outlined strategies to increase global supplies of COVID-19 vaccines. These allocations will be made through platforms such as the COVAX facility and the G7+ platform, of which Nigeria will be a beneficiary.

On Friday June 25th, after a two-day board meeting, the board of the GAVI vaccine alliance stated that it has approved a further $775 million to fund the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines to lower-income economies over the next two years, as it plans to accelerate the rollout. GAVI’s board also set new terms for accessing vaccines, which will disincentivise middle-income nations from participating by insisting they pay for COVAX vaccines fully in advance next year. Starting in 2022, the model will enable self-financing participants that rely on the facility to access doses to continue procuring vaccines through COVAX under revised terms and conditions. The changes mean countries in Latin America and the Middle East, as well as the likes of South Africa, could face higher costs to access the scheme and would need to borrow money to secure doses. However, the poorest countries, mostly in Africa and Southeast Asia, will keep the same conditions, with little or no costs to buy vaccines.

The Federal Government has also recently received communication from the COVAX facility for additional allocation of 3,924,000 doses of AstraZeneca/AZD1222 vaccine, which according to the supply forecast, will be available for delivery into the country by July/August 2021. Similarly, the government is procuring a total allocation of 29,850,000 of Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) COVID-19 vaccine through the African Union Commission and the AfreximBank arrangement. This is expected by September 2021.

We have been informed that some people have the fear of potential side effect and are therefore hesitant to take the vaccine. In some instances, even those who have taken their first jab are afraid of taking the second jab because of side effects. Let me again assure everyone that reactions are expected from all types of vaccination. COVID-19 vaccine is therefore not an exception. What is important is for us to understand that the vaccine is safe and effective and that the reaction would not last, as it only relatively indicates in the individuals that the vaccine is working. So please, think of the long term benefits of getting vaccinated against COVID-19, than the brief reaction you may experience after taking the vaccine.

Our strategic leaders have continued to receive their 2nd doses publicly to motivate people. I would like to use this opportunity to appreciate them and all our other stakeholders who have continued to lend their voices in combating the misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccines. These include other government organizations such as the NCDC and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) that galvanized the Telecommunication companies to support our sensitization campaign through their SMS broadcast. So also the various media outfits that have been airing our jingles and sensitizing the public about the COVID-19 vaccination campaign in Nigeria.

A few weeks ago, I reported that under the leadership of the Hon Ministers of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire and Dr Olorunnimbe Mamora, Eminent Nigerians led by the Deputy Secretary General of the UN, Dr Amina J Mohammed, have been working with local entities such as NAFDAC, NIPRD, NIMR and biovaccines to strengthen the ecosystem and capabilities for local vaccine production. We thank these individuals for their patriotism, dedication and selflessness

Likewise, the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) has indicated its support by incorporating the NPHCDA’s slogan of “Making Nigerians Healthy” as part of their third quarterly meeting theme which is scheduled for August in Jos, Plateau State. Further details of this engagement will be provided in due course.

Distinguished members of the press, let me at this juncture remind you that our North-West zonal town hall meeting is coming up in Kano on Thursday 1st July, 2021. You are cordially invited and we are counting on your usual cooperation to make it successful.

Please let us all continue to wear our face masks and observe the other measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Thank you for listening. Stay safe and remain blessed.

Dr. Faisal Shuaib