Govt denies N10.6bn budget for COVID-19 vaccine transportation

The Federal Government on Saturday debunked a media report that not less than N10.6 billion was earmarked for the transportation of COVID-19 vaccines across the country.

The media report had cited a document purportedly put together by the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), and presented to the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF), which set the budget for the logistics distribution of vaccines to the states and council areas at N10.6 billion.

However, the Executive Director of the NPHCDA, Dr Faisal Shuaib, described the quoted figure as incredulous, saying the responsibility of distribution of vaccines across the country had been taken over by the Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID).

According to him, CACOVID had offered to take up the responsibility of the logistics distribution by providing an aircraft to move vaccines from Abuja to states with airports, as well as vans for further dispatch from airports to areas without airports.

He said: “It doesn’t make any sense that on the one hand, we’ve communicated very clearly to Nigerians that the Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID), a private sector initiative, has provided a cargo plane that will help deliver the vaccines from Abuja to all states that have functional airports.

“For those that do not have functional airports, there is a delivery van that will convey the vaccines from those airports to the states without functionality.

“I do not see how that is going to cost N10 billion. So there is no truth in that information.

“The truth is what I have told you, which is that CACOVID has taken up the responsibility of delivering the vaccines from Abuja to the states.

“The only cost we’re going to incur is the cost of delivering the vaccines from any airport to nearby states that don’t have functional airports. Clearly that cannot be N10.6 billion.”

Asked what the actual cost would be, he said: “You can do the math on the back of an envelope, and you know that it cannot be anything close to a billion naira right?.

“So I believe that CACOVID has already identified that cost as something they are going to take off. I do not know how much it’s going to cost them, but that is something that they have already identified as a cost they will bear, and we are working together with them.

“So it is not correct to say that the Federal Government is going to be expending N10.6 billion to transport vaccines to the state. That is incredulous.”

On the latest development on the 100,000 doses of Pfizer vaccines, the NPHCDA boss said: “So what happened was that there was a committee that met at global level and took the decision that it makes more sense for Nigeria to get 16 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccines rather than 100,000 doses of Pfizer.

“Hundred thousand doses of Pfizer is a drop in the ocean, and given that the AstraZeneca vaccine is more suited to our cold chain environments; from +2 to +8 °C.

“Not only do we have the necessary cold chain equipment, but also our health workers have the capacity to manage vaccines of that temperature. So it just makes sense that we should get vaccines that are more suited to Nigeria.”

Nigeria has 158,042 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 1,954 deaths.

It aims to vaccinate 40% of its people this year, and another 30% in 2022.

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