By Alexis Akwagyiram
LAGOS, Feb 1 (Reuters) – Nigeria expects to receive 41 million COVID-19 vaccine doses from the African Union, the head of the country’s primary healthcare agency said on Monday, while the health minister said vaccines from Russia and India were being considered.
Authorities in Africa’s most populous country, which has 200 million people, plan to inoculate 40% of the population this year and another 30% in 2022.
The African Union initially secured 270 million COVID-19 vaccine doses from manufacturers for member states. Last week it was announced that the bloc would receive another 400 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Faisal Shuaib, who heads the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, said Nigeria’s previous request for 10 million doses through the AU had been increased four-fold.
“We have applied for 41 million doses of a combination of Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines,” Shuaib said in a text message response to written questions.
Shuaib said the request was for 7.6 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, 15.3 million of the AstraZeneca vaccine and 18.4 million of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
He said the doses were expected to arrive by the end of April, adding that Nigeria was “exploring multiple payment options” for the doses including through the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) financing plan to make repayments in installments over five to seven years.
Nigerian authorities have previously said the country is working with the COVAX programme backed by the World Health Organization, that aims to secure fair access to COVID-19 vaccines for poor countries, and expects to receive its first doses in February.
Shuaib, speaking in a news conference in the capital Abuja, said 16 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine were expected to be delivered under the COVAX programme. “This will replace the earlier communicated 100,000 doses of Pfizer vaccines which we all agreed was grossly inadequate,” he said.
Health Minister Osagie Ehanire told reporters that dossiers for two vaccines, one from India and another from Russia, were being studied by the country’s National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) drugs regulator.
Nigeria has had 131,242 confirmed COVID-19 cases, resulting in 1,586 deaths. (Reporting by Alexis Akwagyiram; Additional reporting by Felix Onuah in Abuja; Editing by Paul Simao)
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