The World Health Organisation (WHO) says Nigeria was adjudged ready to receive the Pfizer vaccine but failed to get supplies because of limited doses.
The global health body said the country was among the nine in Africa recommended as “ready to deploy the Pfizer vaccine”.
Walter Mulombo, WHO country representative, said there was “exceptionally high demand” for the available Pfizer vaccines.
The WHO had earlier said Nigeria was not among the countries that initially benefitted from about 320,000 doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine donated to African countries.
“To access an initial limited volume of Pfizer vaccine, countries were invited to submit proposals. Thirteen African countries expressed an interest in participating in the initiative, and their proposals were evaluated based on current mortality rates, new cases and trends and capacities to deliver this vaccine, including to store it at minus 70 degrees Celsius,” Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, had said.
Clarifying further on Saturday, Mulombo said the global health body is making efforts to ensure all countries “access vaccines as quickly as possible”.
“Of the 88 million AstraZeneca doses allocated to African countries for the first phase, Nigeria has received by far the largest allocation, with 16 million doses,” he said.
In addition to the Astra Zeneca doses, there is an initial limited volume of Pfizer vaccine available through COVAX.
“Demand for the initial allocation of 1.2 million Pfizer doses was exceptionally high. COVAX received interest from 72 countries around the world, of which 51 countries were considered by the review committee as ‘ready’ — Nigeria was among these countries — and 18 countries in total were finally chosen to receive initial Pfizer doses.
On the Africa continent, as of the January 18 deadline, COVAX received 13 submissions and a multi-agency committee evaluated the proposals of which 9 were recommended as ready to deploy the Pfizer vaccine including Nigeria.
“Unfortunately, it was not feasible to provide each of these 51 countries with Pfizer doses, due to a number of factors including the limited capacity for Pfizer to handle many countries at once. Therefore, spreading the limited doses across all the 51 countries deemed ‘ready’ could have not achieved the intended public health benefit.
“After epidemiological data was taken into account, the decision was taken to proportionally balance the number of self-financing and AMC participants, as well as participants across all six WHO regions.”