The Federal Executive Council (FEC) says Nigeria has signed up with the World Health Organisation (WHO), Gavi and manufacturers to procure COVID-19 vaccine.
Gavi is an international organisation created in 2000 to improve access to new and underused vaccines.
Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Enahire, disclosed this while briefing State House correspondents after the virtual FEC meeting on Wednesday in the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The meeting was presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo while President Muhammadu Buhari joined virtually from his hometown, Daura, in Kastina State.
“We have signed up with the World Health Organisation and Gavi for access to vaccines immediately they are available.
“But you know that these vaccines are new and are in packets and the producers are not giving any indemnity.
“These countries where these vaccines are manufactured have, of course, given themselves the priority to serve themselves, serve their own citizens first.
“We hope that the pressure from WHO and Gavi will be able to get reserves for other countries that are not manufacturing and they will be able to attend to what we signed up for.
“We signed up for advanced market participation in COVAX; so, if we will be able to get our own, I think it will be in January.
“But there are two types of vaccines; there are those that have to be in ultra deep freezers – the MRA type of vaccines; that is, the freezer must give you Minus 80 degrees.”
According to him, there is also a type that has to be in the deep freezer of minus 20 degrees and another type that can be in minus two degrees – regular refrigerator.
He said that the one in regular refrigerator would be easier to sustain as they were available in Nigeria.
“The one that will be in Minus 20 degrees refrigerators is also going to be possible because we also have the freezers here.
“But the one that will be in ultra cold freezers, we hardly have ultra cold freezers in this country.
“To receive and store in those ultra cold freezers will require that you purchase the ultra cold freezers; so, we are working on the cost.
“Which one shall we get first? Obviously, the one we can afford.
“Remember that we have 200 million citizens; we need to have a way to be able to get enough to be able to take care of all our citizens.
“That means we must be able to get the vaccines that work well, with good cost of storage and cost of delivery.
“That is the one we will like to get as soon as they are available.
“We also had bilateral discussions with manufacturers; some of them have written to us that they want to have discussions with us.”
According to the minister, one of the manufacturers, comprising Russian and British teams, is already having a discussion with the Ministry of Health.
He said that the ministry was looking at multiple sources and had started a conversation with United Arab Emirates.
“The ambassador came to see us and told us that they are buying vaccines from China and had tested them. So, they said they are introducing them to us.
“We said we would listen to them; the one that is effective, healthy in those countries and has also proven to be safe and available is the one we shall bring.”
Ehanire urged Nigerians to take seriously the use of face mask to contain the spread of the disease in the wake of the second wave.