Nigeria plans to vaccinate up to 40 percent of its more than 200 million people this year as part of a mass vaccination drive against the resurgent coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, a top health official said Tuesday.
Africa’s most populous economy is one of the most affected by Covid-19 in the continent, having recorded more than 92,000 infections and 1,319 deaths as of press time.
The second wave of the pandemic, spreading across a number of countries globally, has also hit Nigeria. Since December, the country’s Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has continued to record significant increases in the number of Covid-19 infections with suspicions of a mutating strain of the virus similar to those in the United Kingdom and South Africa.
On Tuesday, January 5, NCDC announced 1,354 new positive cases of Covid-19, the highest daily tally ever recorded and a 12.5 percent increase compared to 1,204 cases seen the previous day.
Looking at the persistent increase in the number of daily infections, a second lockdown cannot be ruled out, government officials have said.
The country has however made considerable progress in securing a working vaccine against the virus. It expects to receive 100,000 doses of the 95 percent-effective Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine by the end of January, executive secretary of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHDA) Faisal Shuaib said.
The jabs are to be delivered through the first phase of the Covax facility, a programme backed by Gavi and the World Health Organisation.
Priority will be given to frontline healthcare workers, first responders, strategic country leadership, the elderly, and those with comorbidities or other diseases besides Covid-19, Shuaib said.
The second phase will see Nigeria receive free delivery of 42 million doses of approved vaccines currently available. That should cover about 20 percent of the population.
To eradicate Covid-19 in the country, Nigeria has to cover 70 percent of the total population with vaccines. The plan is to inoculate 40 percent this year while 30 percent will be vaccinated in 2022, Shuaib said.