ABUJA: Nigeria expects to receive its first doses of a COVID-19 vaccine in January, the country’s health minister said Wednesday, but officials still don’t know which ones they will get.
Africa’s most populous nation has not been as badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic as others on the continent like South Africa, but warned of a second wave of COVID-19 infections last week.
Health Minister Osagie Ehanire said that Nigeria has set up a working group on vaccine handling and is working with the World Health Organization-supported COVAX program.
“We have 200 million citizens. We have to find a way to get enough to take care of our citizens.”
Nigeria is in talks with vaccine makers as well as teams in the UK and Russia, Ehanire said, adding that the United Arab Emirates are introducing the country to manufacturers of a Chinese vaccine that UAE officials have tested.
Nigeria currently doesn’t have many facilities to store the Pfizer / BioNTech shot, which must be stored at minus 70 degrees Celsius, Ehanire said.
While the Nigerian government is looking into the cost of additional ultra-cold freezers, it would aim to get a vaccine that not only works well, but also has “good storage and delivery costs,” he added.
Nigeria had 74,132 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 1,200 deaths on Wednesday.