Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s former Minister of Finance and World Trade Organization candidate for Directo-General, has disclosed that negotiations are currently going on with Covid-19 vaccine manufacturers to get vaccines early enough to developing countries including Nigeria from January next year.
Okonjo-Iweala disclosed this after a closed-door meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, in Abuja on Wednesday.
Okonjo-Iweala, who is an African Union Special Envoy on mobilising international economic support for the continental fight against Covid-19, said in a statement that as long as people still have the virus, nobody was safe, even in developing nations.
“As long as one person has it in the world, no one is safe. And that is why poorer countries, lower-middle-income countries like Nigeria, need to get it as quickly as possible,” she said.
She added that the WHO had launched the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), alongside GAVI and other bodies to get vaccines delivered to developing nations when it became available, citing negotiations with vaccine manufacturers like Pfizer and AstraZeneca.
“So, the Pfizer vaccine, the AstraZeneca, those are being negotiated now so that poor countries don’t have to stand in line behind rich countries,” she said.
“So, we hope they are starting by the end of January. We will be able to reach these countries, including most of the African countries. Nigeria included will be able to get access to some of these vaccines.
“Initially, it will be for frontline health workers, followed by some other target groups – older people, those with underlying conditions and then, from there, the rest of the population. I think the COVAX facility can cover maybe 20-23 per cent of the population by the end of next year,” Okonjo-Iweala added.