Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) has emphasised that one of Nigeria’s most pressing priorities is obtaining the COVID-19 vaccine for the citizens. He stated this yesterday at the opening session of the virtual edition of the Paris Peace Forum, which featured presentations by some Heads of State & Governments alongside international organisations, on a collective response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to a statement issued by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Office of the Vice President, Mr. Laolu Akande, Osinbajo also said the government is preoccupied with improving healthcare and the economy post-COVID-19.
“The priorities of Nigeria in the post-COVID-19 era include improved healthcare and the economy. First, we need to keep the virus under control. While our guards are still firmly in place, getting the COVID-19 vaccine is a matter of utmost concern. “On this, we are encouraged by the efforts of WHO and other international agencies working to ensure that vaccine delivery will be equitable across all countries, regardless of the priority of orders and ability to pay,” he said.
Underscoring the importance of prioritisng interventions and investments in the healthcare system, the Vice President said: “We are encouraging private investment to upscale our health sector, with emphasis on improved facilities and affordable universal healthcare.”
Appreciating leaders across the world for their prompt response and cooperation in controlling the spread of the COVID-19, Osinbajo said: “The sheer scale of disruptions to our lives and livelihoods caused by COVID-19 certainly caught us all by surprise.” But, the Federal Government, through the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Adeleke Mamora, said yesterday that the country is not in haste to deploy the use of the latest vaccine from pharmaceutical giants – Pfizer and BioNTech, which is said to be 90 per cent effective in preventing people from contracting COVID-19.
It expressed optimism in the assurance that the country will have a fair share of the vaccines when available and also that many other vaccines will come on the horizon, from which Nigeria can make its choice that best fits its situation. Restating the call for debt relief for developing countries, the Vice President said “the pandemic underscores the need for adequate financial buffers to cope with the ‘black swan’ events.
For many developing countries, the debt burden makes this all but impossible”. The World Health Organisation (WHO) also disclosed that apart from the vaccine from Pfizer, there are 10 other vaccine candidates in advanced stages of clinical trial, with 37 vaccine candidates conducting human trial. Mamora, while speaking during the briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 in Abuja, stated that even when the vaccines are ready, Nigeria will have to work to ensure that the vaccines are stored at minus 70 degrees centigrade.