The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire has said that Nigeria is expecting to receive its first batch of the COVID-19 vaccines by the beginning of March.
Mr Ehanire said this on Wednesday while addressing journalists after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting in Abuja.
The Federal Government had said last week that Nigeria would receive four million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine very soon.
But speaking of when they will be delivered, the health minister said; “that is not in our hands. It is the hand of the person who is bringing it to us”.
He also noted that about 70% of the population is expected to be inoculated within two years.
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“We have been told to open an account with Afreximbank under the African Union; we have done that already successfully because we are going to pay for that part of the vaccine. The COVAX vaccine is free, at no cost to us, it is made from donations.
“We want to immunise about 60 to 70% of our population. If COVAX immunises 20, then we have about 40 to 50 to immunise within the next two years. So, we have to pay for that minus any donations that we get like the MTN donation, for example, all those ones reduce the quantities that we have to purchase or any other that in future are given to us free of charge.
“Now, the COVAX will start delivering to African countries before the end of February; that’s what they told us.
“But they didn’t tell us which country is first or which is second, which is third. So, COVAX begins to deliver before the end of February. And we hope that before the end of this month, it would be our turn or latest by beginning of next month.”
The minister’s comments come on the same day that Ghana became the first country to receive vaccines from Covax, a global scheme to procure and distribute Covid inoculations for free for poorer countries.
The 600,000 doses delivered to Ghana were the Oxford/AstraZeneca formula, made under license by the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, the Serum Institute of India.
As of December 2020, the minister had said that Nigerians should expect to receive the COVID-19 vaccine by the end of January 2021.
The Governor of Ekiti State and the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum, Kayode Fayemi, had also said the country is expected to procure a total of 140 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine within the next two years.