The Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Faisal Shuaib, on Monday said Nigeria has more than enough facility to store the 100,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine being expected late January or early February.
Shuaib made the clarification at the briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Abuja decsribing as untrue insinuations that the expected 100,000 dosage will be wasted due to lack of storage facility.
The NPHCDA boss said, “I want to reiterate that the first set of vaccine expected in the country is the Pfizer Biotech vaccine and the equipment required to store them – the ultra-cold chain equipment – are available at the National Strategic Cold Store of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency.”
Shuaib said it was the decision of government, through the PTF and the Ministry of Health not to invest too heavily in ultra-cold chain equipment, hence the decision to go for vaccines that can be stored with the equipment being used to store vaccines for routine polio immunisation.
While encouraging all Nigerians to get vaccinated when vaccines become accessible, Shuaib said, “The chances of spreading the disease are significantly reduced when community members are vaccinated,” he said.
The Chairman of PTF, Boss Mustapha, however urged Nigerians to do everything possible to avoid a second lockdown in the country.
Mustapha, who is also the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, said this can be done by complying with the protocols released by government.
He also announced that the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control had been authorised to immediately implement the 450 tests per local government plan.
The Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, sfor his part aid the PTF and by extension, the Federal Government, was never favourably disposed to the January 18 date for reopening of schools.
The minister said, “We sat down, looked at the figures and we took the decision that schools should not open.
“Unfortunately, we have to state this because it is supposed to be a collective decision, but you must understand that the schools we are talking about, the Federal Government has only about 100 out of thousands of schools.
“The schools are under the jurisdiction of states and just as the PTF was unanimous in saying that schools should not open, states were unanimous that schools should open.
“So, we have to compromise and as PTF we shall monitor what is happening on a daily basis. There could be some review again.”
Meanwhile, the PTF has created a special team to implement and monitor safety protocols in the states in the Niger Delta, riverine communities and along the waterways in the country.
The National Coordinator of the PTF, Dr Sani Aliyu, at the media briefing said the Special Task Team on COVID-19 would be led by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, Ita Enang.
Aliyu, who was represented by the National Incident Manager, PTF, Dr Muktar Mohammed, also said the team would be mobilised by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and the Nigerian Shippers’ Council.
Also, the NCDC called on private laboratories to support the country’s testing on coronavirus.
The NCDC Director-General, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, lamented that Nigeria unlike other countries, placed more burden on the public laboratories.
He stated, “In Nigeria, 30 percent of the over 1million tests that have been done was by the private sector. The public sector still bears the burden of testing.”
He said a framework had been developed for the private sector participation, and promised to send a team of supporters for activation of any private laboratory in any part of the country.