BUA, one of Africa’s largest conglomerates, yesterday, said it had paid for one million doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines for Nigeria through Afrexim Vaccine Programme, in partnership with CACOVID.
According to the firm, the doses of vaccine, which should be delivered by next week, will be the first delivery to Nigeria since the COVID-19 vaccines became available. The development will effectively push Africa’s most populous nation to the front of the queue in vaccine procurement.
The Guardian had, on Monday, reported that vaccinating more than 200 million Nigerians could gulp over N2 trillion, and the Federal Government might require N921.2 billion to vaccinate 140 million people in one year.
There have been concerns about Nigeria’s ability to obtain vaccines despite lofty targets by the Federal Government. According to BUA, the vaccines will be distributed to Nigerians at no cost.
Founder of BUA, Abdul Samad Rabiu, thanked President of Afrexim Bank, Dr. Benedict Oramah, for making the purchase possible, and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefiele, for coordinating the process through the CACOVID private sector partnership.
Rabiu said: “BUA decided to secure these 1million vaccines by paying the full amount for the drug today. These vaccines became available only last week through Afrexim.
“We expect the vaccines to be delivered within the next 14 days and hope priority will be given to our frontline workers who have committed their lives to managing the pandemic.
“In addition to this, BUA is committing to purchase five million doses for Nigeria as soon as they become available through this same arrangement.”
The World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Saturday that Nigeria and other African countries were not barred from accessing COVID-19 vaccines through the global assess facility, COVAX.
COVAX, a WHO-backed programme, was set up to divide a billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines across 92 low and middle-income countries.
At a press briefing on Saturday, WHO Country Representative in Nigeria, Walter Mulombo, said the international health agency was supporting all countries to access vaccines as quickly as possible.