States fail to make vaccine plans, FG blames politics for delay

State governments, except Lagos and Oyo, are not making independent plans to procure COVID-19 vaccine,  officials told The PUNCH on Sunday.

Officials of states including Plateau, Delta, Ekiti, Gombe, Cross River and Bauchi,  in separate interviews with The PUNCH, said they had not made any plan to buy the vaccine,  rather they would depend on allocations from the Federal Government.

But Lagos and Oyo states, had two weeks ago,  told our correspondents that they were making independent plans to buy doses of COVID-19 vaccine, in addition to the allocations expected from the Federal Government.

As most states failed to make their own plans for the vaccine, the Federal Government on Sunday blamed politics and logistics due to no fault of Nigeria for the delay in the arrival of the vaccine in country.

Recall that the Federal Government had on January 5 said it was expecting 100,000 doses of free Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine.

The Executive Director of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Faisal Shuaib, who disclosed this, said the country would later in the year receive 42 million free doses of COVID-19 vaccines.

The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, had earlier on December 22, 2020, told the Senate that the Federal Government would need about N40bn to vaccinate 70 per cent of Nigerians.

Sunday PUNCH  had reported that the Federal Government had yet to submit a budget proposal for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccine to the National Assembly.

Besides the delay at the federal level, there were indications on Sunday that state governments would solely depend on the central government as they were not making their  own plans to procure the vaccine.

We won’t buy more vaccines – Plateau

The Plateau State Government said it was not ready to buy additional vaccines from elsewhere, apart from what the Federal Government would give the state.

The state Commissioner for Health, Dr Nimkong Lar, who stated this in an interview with one of  our correspondents in Jos, said the state was making arrangements on how its vaccine allocation from the Federal Government would be stored.

The commissioner said,  “We are expecting to get our own share of the COVID-19 vaccines from the ones ordered by the Federal Government. As it is, Plateau State Government has no plans  to purchase more vaccines from elsewhere.”

Also, the Delta State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Mordi Ononye, said the state would not buy additional doses of vaccines.

He said, “We are getting all our vaccine through Federal Government, this is the first phase. As the doses of the vaccine come, they will be allocated to states based on the  number of COVID-19 cases.”

It’s responsibility of FG to provide vaccines for states – Kano

In Kano, the state government said it  no plan to purchase COVID-19 vaccine.

The Coordinator of  state Task Force on COVID-19, Dr Tijjani Hussaini,  disclosed this in a telephone interview with The PUNCH in Kano on Sunday.

He stated, “As a government, Kano state does not have any plan to purchase COVID-19 vaccine.”

Hussani said since the Federal Government would provide the vaccine to states as promised, the state government had no intention of procuring the commodity from anywhere.

“The Federal Government is getting grants from donor agencies, so it is the responsibility of the Federal Government to provide the vaccine for states.”

Vaccine, an FG’s affair – Gombe

Also Deputy Governor of Gombe state, Dr  Manassah Jatau, described COVID-19 vaccine as a Federal Government affair.

Jatau stated, “Let the vaccine comes  first, we have enough manpower (to administer the vaccine).  If you have been listening to the Federal Government,  it is more of Federal Government affair. “

We can’t purchase COVID-19 vaccines now – C’River Commissioner for Health

On his part, the Cross River State Commissioner for Health, Dr Betta Edu said Nigeria had not approved any COVID-19 vaccine yet, so the state could not go and buy any.

Edu, in an interview with one of our correspondents,  said, “Nigeria as we speak has not approved any vaccine yet. There is a procedure. I am sure you heard the DG of NAFDAC (Director-General of National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control)   when she said no vaccine had been approved for use in Nigeria. So we cannot go buying vaccines right now.”

Ekiti working with FG to have enough vaccines

The Ekiti State Commissioner for  Health, Dr Oyebanji Filani, said that the state government was working with the Federal Government to ensure the provision of COVID-19 vaccine for residents of the state,

The commissioner, who said that orders for the vaccines were being coordinated by the Federal Government, said, “Ekiti is working with the FG to ensure we have enough vaccines for all.”

In a telephone interview, the Executive Chairman of the Bauchi State Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr. Rilwan Mohammed, said that although the quantity of vaccine the Federal Government would  give the state would be small, the state government had  yet to take any decision on additional doses.

Ogun sets up committee, plans to access manufacturers

But the Ogun State Government says it may  procure its own vaccines apart from the ones it will  get from the Federal Government if it has access to the manufacturers directly .

The state Commissioner for Health, Dr  Tomi Coker,  in a  phone chat with one of our correspondents,  said,  “Ogun State is working on it (procuring the vaccine). A COVID-19 Vaccine Committee has been set up. We have yet to decide. Firstly, if we have access to the manufacturers directly. Secondly, it depends on how many Ogun State citizens are ready to submit themselves to vaccination.”

On the quantity of the vaccines the state government might need, ,Coker said, “I  think what you ought to do is survey the citizens to find out how many would take the vaccine.”

Oyo panel to submit report on type, quantity of vaccine

Also, the Oyo State Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism in Oyo State, Wasiu Olatunbosun, said  the state technical team on COVID-19 had been mandated to consider the volume and the type, and processes of dispensing the vaccines to be procured by the government.

According to him, it is expected that the recommendation by the team of medical experts will be submitted to the state Governor, Seyi Makinde, within the week or latest by next week.

We’ll prioritise frontline workers, the elderly, says Sanwo-Olu

The Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu,  said the state government would prioritise frontline workers, the vulnerable and the elderly when it eventually gets the COVID-19 vaccine.

In a statement on Sunday, Sanwo-Olu assured residents that aside from the dosage the Federal Government would give the state, his administration was finalising plans to order its own vaccine.

According to the governor, Lagos has so far taken 316, 801 samples, adding that 47,871 returned positive.

He noted that the test positivity ratio for January 2021 was 24 per cent, which he said was the highest monthly average recorded in the last six months.

Sanwo-Olu said, “The Lagos State Government is aware that the Federal Government is expecting its first batch of vaccines (Pfizer) from the Covax facility in February, and that Lagos State’s status as the epicentre of the pandemic in Nigeria will be duly considered in the distribution plan.

“At the moment, the state government is finalising its own vaccine strategy, while at the same time keeping a close eye on ongoing vaccine research, development and clinical trials. It is also in constant engagement with all the relevant stakeholders in that space, in the public and private sectors.

“As the vaccines become available in Lagos State, they will be prioritised to the people who need them the most: frontline health workers, people with co-morbidities (medically vulnerable), the elderly (aged 65 and above, and subsequently, those aged between 50 and 65), and essential workers.”

He explained that the government was aware of numerous international claims that the broad spectrum anti-parasitic medication, Ivermectin, had shown some efficacy in acting as a sustained prophylaxis in containing the causative virus in SARS-CoV-2.

Sanwo-Olu said while the medication had not yet been approved for the broad treatment of coronavirus, the state government had ensured adequate stock of the drug.

He said it would be initially deployed in a short clinical trial to ascertain its efficiency in the prevention and treatment of COVID-19.

Nigeria, others seek fair COVID-19 price – FG

Meanwhile, the Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency on Sunday,  said the COVID – 19 vaccine had yet to arrive because countries had been involved in negotiating price reduction, safety and effectiveness and required logistics to stop ongoing community transmission of the virus.

Shuaib stated in a statement by the agency’s Head (Public Relations), Mohammad Ohitoto tiled: “Investment in COVID – 19 vaccines will strengthen PHC system in Nigeria”, obtained by our correspondent on Sunday.

He said, “While the country appreciates the global effort through the COVAX facility to ensure low and medium income countries like Nigeria have fair and equitable access to the COVID – 19 vaccine, the delay in accessing vaccines means that eligible countries would have to explore all channels that can ensure fair prices, safe and effective vaccines for its populace. “

“The expected engagement of additional healthcare workers to administer the vaccine and ensure non-disruption of routine services, the intensive capacity building and the acquisition of new and additional cold chain equipment will contribute immensely to strengthening the PHC system.”

According to him,  as the country awaits the arrival of the first batch of COVID – 19 vaccine this month,  state governments should put all the necessary logistics in place to ensure a successful vaccination exercise.

 Politics of logistics, due to no fault of  Nigeria causing delay – FG

Also, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed Nigeria, in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Sunday, said the first batch of 100,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine was delayed because of  “politics and logistics due to no fault of Nigeria.”

The minister  said the issue of vaccine was a serious one to government which had put every needed infrastructure in place for its storage.

He stated,  “The fact that these vaccines will now come in February is not due to Nigeria’s fault. We are very ready to receive the 100,000 doses and we have the infrastructure, even when it is going to be preserved at about -70 Degree Celsius,’’ he said.

According to him, the ultra-cold freezers to store the Pfizer vaccine candidate doses upon their arrival in the country had already been acquired before the companies said it had to wait till February.

Mohammed also  said government had also accessed the African Union   and other international agencies for vaccines.

MTN donates $25m for  procurement of 7 million COVID-19 vaccine doses  for Africa’s health  workers

In a related development,  MTN has announced a donation of $25 million to support the African Union’s COVID-19 vaccination programme.

The MTN, in a statement, said the donation would  help secure up to seven million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine for African countries.

It stated, “In a unique public-private partnership, we announced a donation of US$25 million to support the African Union’s COVID-19 vaccination programme, working with the Africa CDC (Centre for Disease Control) and the African Union Vaccination Acquisition Task Team (AVATT).

“The donation will help secure an estimated seven million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and cover associated distribution costs for the rollout of vaccines in Africa being secured for frontline healthcare workers across the 55 member states of the African Union.”

President and Chief Executive Officer of MTN Group, Ralph Mupita, in the statement stated, “The devastating impact of COVID-19 has been unprecedented and profound.  Public and private partnerships are needed if we are to succeed in the fight against the pandemic and restore social and economic norms for our continent and our communities.”

By Friday Olokor, Samson Folarin, James Abraham, Matthew Ochei,  Tukur Muntari, Ada Wodu, Abiodun Nejo, Armstrong Bakam,  Daud Olatunji, Chima Azubuike and Wale Oyewale

PUNCH

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