The Federal Government is painstakingly exploring multiple sources and cheaper but effective COVID-19 vaccines. Chairman, Technical Working Group for the therapy, Dr. Bassey Okposen, who dropped the hint in an exclusive interview with The Guardian in Abuja, said besides the COVAX facility spearheaded by Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) where 92 countries, including Nigeria, are eligible for support, attention is still being focused on other pharmaceuticals around the world.
He added that Nigeria was in touch with the governments of Russia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for supplies. Okposen, who doubles as Director, Disease Control and Immunisation at the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), said: “These are opinions that we are exploring. If we want to buy as a country, it should be vaccines that have been tested, effective and not very expensive. Some of them are very expensive. The Moderna is about $33 per dose, and one person needs two doses. So, you know what that means when you multiply by the population. It will amount to billions of naira.
“The other protein vector virus vaccines would be of advantage considering that the cold chain storage requires 228 which is what our routine vaccine cold chain storage requirement is, and it makes for easier maintenance aside affordability. Something like AstraZeneca costs about $4 per dose. So, for the two doses, it will be about $8.”
He continued: “But if you are going for mRNA vaccines like Moderna and Pfizer, you are looking for minus 70 Degree Celcius cold chain and the prices are high. But for those very high-risk health workers, we are targeting that supply from GAVI and then, we will acquire some cold chain space to make sure they are properly kept for sustainability. But for the larger volume, we will be preferring something like AstraZeneca where the storage temperature is like the one we are using for our routine vaccines.
Photo credit: Dado Ruvic / Reuters
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