Dr Osagie Enahire, the Minister of Health, has disclosed that the Federal Government does not know exactly when the much expected AstraZeneca vaccines will be delivered to the country.
He said the date of delivery of the vaccines was solely dependent on the donor, the World Health Organization (WHO) led COVAX facility and not the country.
He made this known during a program on NTA on Friday.
According to the minister, the country is expecting the first batch of four million doses out of the 16 million doses.
He assured that all necessary arrangements have been made to take delivery of the vaccines as soon as they arrive.
He said: “When the vaccines will arrive depends actually on the donor. These vaccines are donated and they are provided by the COVAX facility. This COVAX facility is in the process of giving them to various countries, and you understand that after Ghana it is Ivory Coast. When ours will come exactly, we do not know. So it is not really in our hand.
“Ghana got its first shipment of 600,000 doses, but we are expecting four million doses – which is quite a size, and we are prepared to receive the vaccines as soon as it comes.
“All the preparations are down, and the launch will be at the National Hospital in Abuja, and they have been put on notice, and NPHCDA has done all the planning and micro-planning needed to get that process going.”
Speaking on the mode of administering the vaccines to patients, the minister said they will adhere to the protocols recommended by WHO.
While dosage intake of the AstraZeneca vaccines differs from that of Johnson & Johnson which is a single dose, the minister suggested that a 12-week interval for the AstraZeneca would have a long-lasting immune response as recommended in the United Kingdom.
He said: “As for the protocols, we are following the recommendation by the WHO, which is to give attention to frontline health workers – those that are exposed to the risk of being infected and those who if they get infected, will create a vacuum in workforce; it includes those working in the laboratories and dealing with this virus.
“The second category will be those who if they got infected, will be severely sick, and those are the elderly and those with vulnerable diseases like diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, asthma etc. So they will be given priority. We are going to be scaling down from the health workers, those with vulnerabilities, to the age of 18. We are looking for what we call herd immunity to be able to immunise 70 per cent of our citizens. We hope that with that and with the same process in the West African sub-region, we are all safe.
“AstraZeneca is a two-dose vaccine. The Johnson & Johnson, which is among the ones we are getting from the African Union (AU) is a one-dose vaccine. The interval that is suggested with the AstraZeneca is three weeks, but some countries have demonstrated the experience that if you stretch that interval up to 12 weeks, you do get a better and longer-lasting immune response. That is what has been recommended particularly in the UK.
“So, we are looking at what the UK experience brings and also what we see here. But it is from three weeks to 12 weeks.”
Ghana and Cote d’ Ivoire are the only countries in Africa that have so far received their shipment of the AstraZeneca vaccine.