Nigeria is about to receive its first tranche of COVID-19 vaccines from COVAX, a global scheme set up to procure and distribute vaccines, as the country works to contain the pandemic.

The first shipment of four million vaccines is expected to arrive in the country on Monday, about one year after the most populous African nation recorded its index case on Feb. 27, 2020, said Boss Mustapha, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19.

Nigeria has recorded a total of 155,417 COVID-19 confirmed cases since the index case, an imported one, was recorded in Lagos, the epicenter of the virus, according to data from the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) on Saturday.

“I can assure you that the vaccines are coming and they are coming very quickly. Barring any change in the delivery plan… we believe that our vaccines will be back in here on March 1 by 10:30 p.m. and arrive in Abuja on March 2 at about 11:10 a.m.,” Mustapha told reporters at a regular briefing in Abuja on Saturday.

He said the country expects to receive about 16 million in the first quarter from the COVAX facility, while “by the time they supply all the range, we are expecting that they will supply 84 million doses from the COVAX facility which is free of charge and will cover about 20 per cent of the Nigerian population”.

“Everything we are expecting from the COVAX facility is going to be the AstraZeneca which has a good ravage in terms of storage for us,” he said.

According to Mustapha, Nigeria also has another source of more than 40 million doses vaccines coming in from African Union’s African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT).

Nigeria’s Health Minister Osagie Ehanire told media in Abuja earlier in the month that if all the projected vaccines are supplied, the country should have covered over 45 per cent of the population.

In the past year, out of the total confirmed cases, Nigeria has discharged 133,256 patients and recorded 1,905 COVID-19 related deaths across the 36 states, including the federal capital territory, Abuja.

Active COVID-19 cases in the country currently stand at 20,183, the NCDC said.

Chikwe Ihekweazu, head of the NCDC said at the same press briefing that the country’s national response in the past year has been led by “science”.

Ihekweazu said there’s a need for continued adherence to the public health and social measures as the country marks one year of the first case of COVID-19.

This, he said, includes physical distancing, wearing face masks, practicing hand and respiratory hygiene, and avoiding crowded indoor places.

With at least one public health laboratory for COVID-19 testing in each state, more than 70 public health laboratories have been established across the country, as part of efforts to scale up capacity for COVID-19 testing and surveillance activities, he said further.

“However, we must remember our resilience and strength as a country. We cannot afford to give up now and must continue to take responsibility — whether as individuals, organizations, or governments,” he added. Enditem

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