The World Health Organisation-led COVAX global leadership neglected to shortlist Nigeria for the Pfizer vaccines following the country’s failure to meet the standard requirement of being able to store the vaccines at the required -70 degrees Celsius.
The Nigerian government stated that it was expected to receive 100,000 doses through the COVAX initiative, which was set up to guarantee speedy and fair access to COVID-19 vaccines for all countries, despite of income level.
But, the Director, WHO, African Region, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, said only four African countries were shortlisted for the Pfizer vaccine out of the 13 that applied.
Moeti said WHO could not risk the Pfizer vaccines being wasted.
She said, “Around 320,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine have been allocated to four African countries – Cape Verde, Rwanda, South Africa and Tunisia. This vaccine has received WHO Emergency Use Listing but requires countries to be able to store and distribute doses at minus 70 degrees Celsius.
“To access an initial limited volume of Pfizer vaccine, countries were invited to submit proposals. Thirteen African countries submitted proposals and were evaluated by a multi-agency committee based on current mortality rates, new cases and trends, and the capacity to handle the ultra-cold chain needs of the vaccine.
“This announcement allows countries to fine-tune their planning for COVID-19 immunisation campaigns. We urge African nations to ramp up readiness and finalise their national vaccine deployment plans. Regulatory processes, cold chain systems and distribution plans need to be in place to ensure vaccines are safely expedited from ports of entry to delivery. We can’t afford to waste a single dose.”