Nigeria’s Former minister of finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has assured Nigeria and other African countries of access to COVID-19 vaccines from the end of January through the first quarter of 2021.
According to a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Okonjo-Iweala had a closed-door meeting with the foreign affairs minister Geoffrey Onyeama.
Okojo-Iweala, who is currently the African Union Special Envoy on mobilising international economic support for the continental fight against COVID-19 and Nigeria’s candidate for the Office of the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation, said “as long as one person has it in the world, no one is safe. And that is why poorer countries, lower-middle-income countries like Nigeria, need to get it as quickly as possible.
She said that the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines were being negotiated so that underdeveloped countries do not have to wait behind rich countries to get jabs.
“So, the Pfizer vaccine, the AstraZeneca, those are being negotiated now so that poor countries don’t have to stand in line behind rich countries.
“So, we hope they are starting by the end of January. We will be able to reach these countries, including most of the African countries, Nigeria included, will be able to get access to some of these vaccines,” she said.
She revealed that the World Health Organisation had launched the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), alongside GAVI and other bodies to get vaccines delivered to developing nations when it became available.
On Wednesday, the People’s Vaccine Alliance, a group of international human rights organisations and campaigners warned that developing countries including Nigeria are being left behind in the global sprint to end the coronavirus pandemic because the majority of the most promising vaccines have been bought up by the West.
It called on all pharmaceutical corporations working on vaccines to openly share their technology and intellectual property so that billions more doses can be manufactured and made available to everyone in the world who needs them.