The Federal Government is blaming politics and logistics as part of the reason for the delay of the first batch of 100,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine against COVID-19.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who disclosed this in Abuja said the issue of vaccine was a serious one to government which had put every needed infrastructure in place for its storage.
“The fact that these vaccines will now come in February is not due to Nigeria’s fault. It is all due to politics and logistics but we are very ready to receive the 100,000 doses and we have the infrastructure, even when it is going to be preserved at about -70 degree Celsius,’’ he said.
The minister said the ultra-cold freezers to store the Pfizer vaccine candidate doses upon their arrival in the country had already been acquired before the companies said it had to wait till February.
Mohammed, a member of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, said government had also accessed the African Union (AU) and other international agencies for vaccines. He assured that in the next two years, they would be able to vaccinate about 70 percent of the population.
The minister underscored the need for sustained advocacy campaign against the position of some people who had bad-mouthed the vaccines that it had a lot of resistance.
“We have to appeal to our traditional, religious and political leaders to understand that as of today, there is no other silver bullets than the vaccines. They are the only option that can save humanity from the deadly virus and the elite must take the lead in this campaign.
“We must disabuse our minds from the campaign of naysayers that the vaccines are dangerous, it can cause impotency or meant to depopulate some parts of the world,’’ he said.
Mohammed said WHO had certified the vaccines to be safe and efficacious, therefore, the concern should be availability, affordability and logistics for distribution. He reiterated that the vaccines were the most effective and quickest way for the world to resume normal life of restraints and restrictions.
The minister said the spike in the cases of COVID-19 and fatality was largely because Nigerians had refused to abide by the basic non-pharmaceutical intervention principles. He said Nigerians were not heeding the basic principles, including wearing facial masks, not gathering in places, keeping social distancing, washing of hands regularly and using hand sanitisers.