Thursday, August 11, 2022

COVID-19: EU Donates 2M Doses Of J&J Vaccines To Nigeria

VACCINE
The executive director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr. Faisal Shuaib (fifth from left) and the European Union Ambassador to Nigeria, Samuela Isopi flanked by EU officials during the ceremony in Abuja.

As part of efforts to support partner countries in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, the European Union (EU) has donated 2 million doses of Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccines to Nigeria.

Speaking at the official handover ceremony today (February 7) in Abuja, the European Union Ambassador to Nigeria and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Samuela Isopi, said the donation by Finland, Greece and Slovenia through COVAX is part of a global donation of almost 20 million J&J doses from EU member states to Nigeria, adding [that] other important donations (from Team Europe) will follow in the coming weeks.

According to her, the Team Europe approach is about the EU and its member states joining forces and pooling together their resources to support partner countries in the common fight against the pandemic – because nobody is safe until everybody is safe.

“The European Union is, so far, the biggest donor of COVID-19 vaccines in the world. To date, Team Europe has mobilised at least €38.5 billion, of which €8 billion is for the African continent.

“The EU is now stepping up its effort to support Africa, where vaccination is lower than in other parts of the world. This will be at the centre of the discussions among Africa and Europe’s leaders at the upcoming EU-AU summit next week in Brussels,” said the envoy.

Isopi said the donation signifies the continuation of the commitment of the European Union and its member states to support Nigeria’s fight against COVID-19.

“Today is a momentous day but we know that much work remains ahead of us. As we head into the third year since the COVID-19 outbreak, the pandemic is not yet defeated. We must continue to work together, help partner countries to speed up vaccinations and to develop the capacity to manufacture vaccines locally,” she added.

Earlier in his remarks, the executive director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib, appreciated the EU on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria for its continued partnership in development, even as he expressed no doubt about the commitment of the European Union to the eradication of COVID-19 from Nigeria and the rest of the world.

The NPHCDA boss recalled that the Federal Government of Nigeria had earlier in 2021 procured 39,850,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine from the AFREXIM Bank through the African Union.

He added that today’s donation of 1,936,050 doses by the European Union makes the total number of doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine available in Nigeria 51million doses, stating Nigeria currently has 12,916,450 doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccines at the moment. 

“As earlier mentioned in my previous public communication, we will be focusing the J&J vaccines on those in hard-to-reach areas (riverine areas, desert areas and security-compromised areas). This is because the Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires only a single dose for full vaccination. This way our health workers will be able to do what is called a ‘touch-and-go’ without comprising their safety,” he said.

Shuaib assured that Nigeria is committed to a safe, equitable and effective COVID-19 vaccination programme.

He further pointed out that the availability of different vaccine brands does not mean that some categories of people are selected for high-quality vaccines while others are targeted for low-quality vaccines.

“All COVID-19 vaccines approved by the World Health Organisation are safe and can deliver adequate protection against the disease. While the choice of vaccine is left for eligible persons to make, it is important to note that no particular vaccine brand is preferable to the other,” he stressed.

Giving an update of the COVID-19 vaccination in the country, he posited that Nigeria has vaccinated 15,792,392 (14.1 per cent) of her eligible population with the first dose. 

“We are using the platform of COVID-19 vaccination to also make available access to other primary healthcare interventions. We have been engaging with the poor performing states to identify areas where they would require more support from us and to also help them in identifying areas where they can improve to ramp up their vaccination coverage. Last week, we were in Enugu State where we engaged with all the stakeholders in the five southeastern states. With our attention now intensively focused on the states, we are hoping to see a more rapid vaccine coverage over the next couple of weeks,” he added. He urged all eligible Nigerians yet to be vaccinated to avail themselves of current opportunities to receive their COVID-19 vaccines, stressing no one is safe until all are safe.

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