The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) says it is working hard to ensure that Nigerians have access to the coronavirus vaccines when available.
Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, Director-General of NCDC, gave the assurance during the Presidential Task Force (PTF) briefing on COVID-19 on Monday in Abuja.
Ihekweazu said that the centre was working with the global community to ensure this access.
He informed that data on research and development of a vaccine against COVID-19 by the global scientific community showed that results on a possible vaccine were expected in the fourth quarter of 2020.
The DG, while noting that a vaccine was the best weapon in taming the virus, however, stressed that equitable access was key.
He added that the health agency was working together with other colleagues around the continent, through the Africa CDC, to start advocating for some of the trials to be done with African institutions in the short term.
“To do this, we have to build capacity, gather sufficient data and include African institutions in these efforts.
“We have to start preparing Nigerian population for vaccine delivery when it becomes available.
“Access is a very key issue when it comes to vaccines; that a vaccine is developed do not necessarily translate to being available to those that need it the most.
“So, through the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, the World Health Organisation (WHO) is working with GAVI to ensure that vaccines are available to countries regardless of their ability to pay.
It was reported that GAVI is an international organisation – a global Vaccine Alliance, bringing together public and private sectors with the shared goal of creating equal access to new and underused vaccines for children living in the world’s poorest countries.
“It’s a work in progress and we are all working with Africa CDC and GAVI to ensure that when a vaccine becomes available, Nigeria’s can have access to it,’’ NCDC boss said.
He also said that it was important to involve the private sector and academia in vaccination manufacturing.
Ihekweazu hinted that the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) would lead the distribution and planning.
The DG pointed out that campaign to enlighten Nigerians on the benefit of the vaccine was important.
This, according to him, is because a small part of the population resisted vaccines for different reasons.
“So, the time to start the risk communication about the benefits of the vaccine is now.
“As soon as a vaccine becomes available, it’s our collective responsibility to prepare Nigerians for the implementation of the vaccination campaign for whatever form they take.
“So, it’s important that we start thinking about this,’’ the DG said.
Ihekweazu stressed that a vaccine was the biggest weapon to get the virus under control and by far the most important medical tool known in history.
“Vaccine development normally takes 10-20 years, but we’ve made incredible development in the last six months,’’ he said.