A survey conducted by the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) between August and December 2020 showed that a predominant majority (79% average) of survey respondents in Africa would take a COVID-19 vaccine if it were deemed safe and effective.
Another survey published by Medrxiv.com with approval from Global Health Focus Africa Institution Review Board showed that in Nigeria alone, 74.5% of respondents intend to take the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available. While 37.1% and 27.3% of respondents refused the vaccine based on lack of trust in the government nor for clinical trials and the belief that their immune system would sufficiently combat the virus respectively.
Amidst citizen’s lack of trust in government’s ability to successfully secure and distribute the Covid-19 vaccine and doubts in the efficacy of the vaccine, the Federal Government of Nigeria has indicated plans to commence the vaccination of citizens after pre-qualification by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and safety revalidation by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).
According to reports, the government plans to vaccinate 40 percent of Nigerians (80 million) by the end of this year starting with the vaccination of the President and Vice President. Followed by another 30 percent (60 million) in 2022, bringing the number to 70 percent (that is 147.7 million) of the country’s estimated population of 211 million by December of 2022.
This, however, leaves the question of how the Nigerian government plans to make vaccination available to all its citizens of over 211 million and how long it would take.
Director of Infectious Disease Control and Immunization, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr Bassey Okposen, during a Zoom meeting on COVID-19 organized by the agency, said 100, 000 doses of BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine would be coming into the country before the end of January and Nigerian healthcare workers would be adequately trained on how to administer the vaccine.
He explained that under the first phase of immunisation, the government aims at targeting only 50,000 health workers and each person is required to be administered two doses with the second dose administered 21 days after the first dose.
When asked on the deployment of vaccines and the possibility of vaccinating up to 50% of the populace this year, Okposen blamed the government for not acquiring a large amount of vaccine.
“NAFDAC is a leader in Africa in terms of ensuring that the COVID-19 vaccines can be tracked and traced to the patients and also monitoring of adverse long reactions.
” This is our new normal and it is because we are changing the way we think. After all, we want to safeguard the health of our people, “she said.
“Our government is doing well, but not well enough. South Africa is receiving 1.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines and we are celebrating 100,000 doses,” he said.
In regards to the possible future of a made-in-Nigeria vaccine, Mojisola Adeyeye, Director-General of National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) would be quoted saying:
“With regards to the establishment of the World Health Organization’s global benchmarking and adoption of international best practices, we want to get to maturity level three so that Nigeria can manufacture its vaccines,”
“We are upgrading the agency’s laboratories to international standards using equipment that are compliant to ISO 17025. NAFDAC laboratories are changing very rapidly with improvements in new equipment and supplies,” she added.
Adeyeye noted that Nigeria hopes to manufacture 70% of pharmaceuticals locally to cut down dependence on imports in the nearest future.