By Abraham Olatokunbo
About 700,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine donated by the United Kingdom (UK) have been received at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
A statement on Tuesday by the British High Commission in Nigeria revealed that
Nigeria unveiled 699,760 doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine which were donated by the UK via the COVAX facility and flown into Abuja on Monday night.
The vaccines were unveiled at a cold storage unit near the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, with the Acting British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Gill Atkinson, joining the Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr Faisal Shuaib, and the World Health Organisation Country Representative to Nigeria, Dr. Walter Kazadi Mulombo for the unveiling, alongside other dignitaries.
The vaccines delivered to Nigeria are part of the three million doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine that the UK has donated to 11 countries across Africa to help the fight against COVID-19.
This includes the 119, 200 doses sent to Zambia and the 51,840 sent to Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) on 13 August, the 119,040 doses sent to Malawi on 14 August, the 140,160 doses sent to Senegal on 15 August, the 299,680 doses sent to Egypt on 16 August, and the 299,520 doses that will be delivered to Uganda on 18 August.
According to the statement, these shipments of UK-donated doses is part of a broader pledge to share 100 million vaccines with the rest of the world, of which 80% will be through COVAX. The UK continues to play a global role in promoting an effective roll-out of the vaccine, including as one of the largest COVAX donors and through its engagement with the Nigerian-led response.
In Nigeria, the UK has restructured its health and human development programming to support the country’s response and continues to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak across all nine pillars of the government’s incident action plans, through the UK Health Security agency, formerly the Public Health England (PHE) and FCDO’s Lafiya health programme in selected states, as well as direct technical engagement at federal level.
This includes providing public health experts’ support for outbreak preparedness and response, helping increase testing capacity and strengthen the work of labs, and embedding staff in the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to provide technical support.
Speaking on the donation, the Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: “Three million doses of UK-donated vaccines are now arriving in 11 countries across Africa, including Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda, to help the fight against COVID-19. This is the first batch of 80 million being donated via COVAX – because we know no one is safe until everyone is safe.”
The Acting British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Gill Atkinson said: “The UK was one of the first countries to back COVAX with £548 million.
“We have consistently pushed for a global effort that helps every country receive the vaccine against Covid-19. I am so pleased to see Nigeria receive 699,760 doses, donated by the UK, in their second batch of the vaccine through COVAX.
“This is the first tranche of the 1,299,760 doses expected to be donated by the UK through COVAX. Only by vaccinating more people around the world can we bring an end to the global coronavirus pandemic.”