Private sector-led Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) has announced the commencement of the process of buying vaccines through Federal Government, even as the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) is set to certify the drugs for use by Nigerians.
Administrator of CACOVID, Mrs. Zouera Youssoufou, while speaking in a monitored TV programme in Lagos, explained how the CACOVID Collegiate Fund works.
She said: “A dispute arose Monday night between BUA, and CACOVID over claims by the former that it had purchased one million doses of COVID-19 vaccine for Nigeria.
“This came on a day Federal Government barred the private sector from administering COVID-19 vaccine, reserving the vaccination exclusively for National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) for safety reasons.”
BUA had said, in a statement on Monday, that it had paid for one million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine for Nigeria through the Afrexim Vaccine Programme, in partnership with CACOVID.
Youssoufou, said: “The way this works is that we, as a group, agree on what to actually purchase, on how to purchase it and what the modalities of the purchase would be. This is how the group has been working since we were created back in March 2020. As you know, we have several things, including testing, test kits and getting isolation centres, PPEs, palliatives and communications.
“Purchase of the vaccines is very similar to purchase of testing supplies, meaning that we do this through very validated and subsidised means. Right now, there are three mechanisms in which Nigeria is participating. One is called COVAX, another one is called African Union Vaccine Acquisition Task Force, which is funded by Afreximbank, and the third one is the World Bank, which is also funding some of these vaccines.
“Nigeria as a country is a member of all these organisations. We, as CACOVID, the private sector coalition against COVID, our role is to support our government in what is needed to help our people in the context of this COVID-19.
“The important thing that we all need to know is that there are several steps to procuring vaccines. The first thing is that governments are the ones who can actually buy vaccines. We as a private-sector group, as individual companies, cannot buy vaccines, we can’t call AstraZeneca or Pfizer or Moderna to order vaccines from them.
“The most over-looked element in this discussion on that aspect about getting vaccines next week, is that AstraZeneca or any vaccine has yet to be approved by NAFDAC, which is our regulatory agency. So, without approval by NAFDAC, there is no vaccine that can come into Nigeria and be distributed to Nigerians or shot into the arms of Nigerians. I think this is where some of the misinformation had come in.”
BUA’s statement on Monday night read: “At the CACOVID steering committee meeting held today February 8, 2021 (of which BUA is a member), members were informed by the CBN governor that CACOVID had been given the opportunity through the Afrexim platform to access and pay for 1million doses, provided payment was made today or tomorrow – failure which the opportunity to get those doses next week may be lost.
“After extensive deliberations, there was no agreement reached and despite members being offered the opportunity to donate funds towards procuring the doses, none offered. BUA then took it upon itself to offer to pay for the 1million doses at the agreed rate of $3.45 per dose, totalling $3,450,000,000.00, which translates to N1.31 billion.
“The chairman of BUA also requested through the CBN governor that the naira equivalent be paid to the relevant account with CBN, and that CBN forward the dollar payment to Afrexim on CACOVID’s behalf.
“This payment was made immediately after the meeting and BUA transferred the money to the CBN in order to meet the deadline. However, with this development by the CACOVID operations committee, we now have just cause to believe that some members of CACOVID were not happy that BUA took this initiative in the interest of Nigeria and to ensure that the deadline was met to receive the 1 million doses of the vaccine next week.
“BUA did this gesture in good faith as it has done with its interventions throughout the pandemic.”
On the claim by BUA that CBN called CACOVID members over a small window through which to procure the doses of vaccines, and for Nigeria not to lose the opportunity, it (BUA) released money for the drugs, Youssoufou replied: “First thing, I was on a call with the Afreximbank President on February 7, with Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Herbert Wigwe and Godwin Emefiele. In that call, President Oranmah (Benedict) was explaining to us their model and how this task force was working with the AU and how they have set up a $2 billion facility to help fund the vaccines for Nigeria and other African countries, and that the allocation of 42 million vaccines had been made for Nigeria.
“He also told us about an extra one million doses that we can get if we can confirm that we wanted those doses immediately by the next day, February 8. CACOVID leaders agreed that it was a good thing and would bring it to the meeting the very next day, which happened. We had the meeting yesterday (February 8) and that discussion actually happened. What is really important to know is that Afreximbank, after that call, already secured those doses for Nigeria because they had the confirmation from the CBN governor, Dangote, and Herbert Wigwe that they would pay for these one million doses.
“Now, the doses don’t come in; it’s not as if we get a million doses of vaccines one day getting dumped into Nigeria; they get delivered at a specific pace. So we may get 100,000 immediately, 150,000 the next week, and then let’s say another 100,000. So we will never get a million doses in one single day coming into Nigeria at once. In order for that to happen, we have to work very closely with both National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, which I just explained, is the one who would be managing this process of getting the vaccine into people’s arms, but also sorting out the logistics.
“Vaccines have to be stored at a certain temperature; when they land from the plane, they come out of a cooler, they have to be transferred to another freezer. Then we have to get those vaccines across the country. We also have to follow a very logical logistics chain of how we are going to get the vaccines from point A to point B, what centres are going to get them, who are the people who are going to get vaccinated, where the health workers are going to be doing the vaccinations.
“This is the work that the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency does. Dr. Faisal Shuaib (Executive Director NPHCDA) has to be part of this conversation for us to have any legitimacy in bringing vaccines back into Nigeria. That is the way it happened.”
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