SENATE RAISES ALARM OVER NIGERIA’S INABILITY TO ACCESS AND ADMINISTER CORONAVIRUS VACCINE

Senate at Plenary. Twitter image @NGRSenate
  • Failure to administer COVID-19 vaccine will worsen economy – Senate committee chair

Sunday Aborisade, Dayo Ojerinde and John Charles

The Senate on Thursday warned that other countries could impose travel ban on Nigerians, if the Federal Government failed to administer COVID-19 vaccines to its citizens.

The warning was contained in a motion  moved  at  plenary  by the Chairman of the Senate  Committee on Health, Ibrahim Oloriegbe, who said COVID-19 vaccines promised the country by  Global Alliance for Vaccine Initiative would not be enough.

The motion, which was adopted by the Senate,  was titled, ‘urgent need for Nigeria to obtain and administer COVlD-19 vaccines to its citizens.’

Recall that the Global Alliance for Vaccine Initiative has promised to provide 20 per cent of the country’s   COVID-19 vaccine requirement.

But in his motion, Oloriegbe lamented that apart from the pledge by  the global organisation, Nigeria had not produced a plan for the procurement, distribution and administration of the vaccines to Nigerians

He, therefore, said to avoid a  global travel ban on Nigerians, the Federal Government should make budgetary provision to procure and administer COVID-19 vaccines.

The Senator also expressed concern that compliance with COVID-19 preventive measures such hand washing, wearing of face masks and social distancing had diminished.

Oloriegbe stated that while some countries had approved vaccines for COVID-19 and were administering the vaccine to their citizens,  many others had  completed plans on the procurement, distribution and administration of the vaccines to their citizens.

He said  Nigeria had  no plan for the procurement, distribution and administration of the vaccine.

According to him, the only plan on COVID-l9 vaccine for Nigeria is the pledge by Global Alliance for Vaccine Initiative.

He said, “This support will cover only the cost of the vaccines without taking care of logistics requirement for distribution and administration”

He said that despite the change in the epidemiology trends of the disease, the financial plan developed by the country and World Bank in April 2020 to fund the response to the pandemic was still being implemented without taking due cognizance to the changes by re-allocating the funds to vaccine procurement.

Failure to administer COVID-19 vaccine will worsen economy – Senate committee chair

He stated, “Failure to administer vaccines to Nigerians will result in the country not being able to control the COVID-19 infection and a possible ban on travelling by Nigerians may be instituted by countries around the world.

“The consequence of non-administration of the vaccines to Nigerians will include worsening social and economic situations.”

From his motion, Senate also resolved to direct its committees on Health and Primary Health Care to invite the Federal Ministry of Health, the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19, the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, the National Agency for Food and Drugs, NCDC, Federal Ministry of Finance and other relevant government agency to present details of protocol, funding, procurement, administration and monitoring of Covid-19 vaccine in Nigeria.

The committees are to report back to the Senate in two weeks.

Commenting on the concern raised at the Senate, the President of the Nigerian Medical Association, Innocent Uja,  dismissed  fears  by the Senate.

Uja, in an interview with one of our correspondents,  dismissed the existence of COVID-19 vaccine, saying what was available across the globe was for  ‘trial’.

According to him, when the vaccine is eventually brought to the country,  it has to go through a clinical trial.

Uja,  who  is also  the Vice Chancellor of Federal University of Sciences, Otukpo, Benue State,  said that  people would  volunteer to take the vaccine as part of the clinical trial.

He said that the essence of the vaccine going through a clinical trial was to get results for efficacy and safety before it could be used.

Uja stated. “It is Federal Government that can import vaccine. In any case, there is no vaccine against COVID-19. What we are doing is a  trial and only yesterday (Wednesday) I made a statement that even when they bring this vaccine, it cannot be used until it undergoes a clinical trial.

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