Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari (78 years) could become the first African leader to take Covid-19 vaccine as there are reports that he and Vice President, Yemi Osinbanjo, are expected to take their vaccine shots by February on live television.
This publicized act is meant to increase acceptance amongst Nigerian citizens to take the vaccine. Last April, the president’s Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, died while being treated for Covid-19.
At least 29 countries worldwide have begun inoculating their populations against the coronavirus, but African countries are still working on concluding supply agreements with pharmaceutical companies.
As per Vanguard, reports have it that Nigeria intends to get 42 million COVID-19 vaccines to cover one-fifth of its population through the global COVAX scheme.
The initial vaccines would come as part of Nigeria’s plan to inoculate 40 percent of the population in 2021 and another 30 percent in 2022, with 100,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine expected to arrive by the end of January 2021.
The COVAX scheme was set up by the WHO in partnership with two other organizations to provide vaccines to poorer countries like Nigeria.
Last year researchers in Nigeria developed a DNA-based vaccine against COVID-19 specifically for Africa but could not take it to the next phase due to lack of funds. The cost of moving a vaccine from research to product registration is estimated to be within the range of $200 million to $500 million.
Some other African countries are also making moves towards procuring the vaccine.
Morocco has ordered for 66 million doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccine.
Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE have offered to supply South Africa with Covid-19 vaccine at a discounted $10 a dose, but the president’s office has described the cost as prohibitive. It’s worth noting that vaccines might be less effective to the South African variant of the virus.
There are also discussions with Johnson &Johnson which is conducting a trial in South Africa and plans to make 300 million doses a year
Currently, there are almost 3 million confirmed COVID-19 cases on the African continent, with the death toll at 71,463.
South Africa has the highest number of Covid-19 positive cases and deaths at 1,192,570 and 34,789 respectively.
After South Africa, the most affected African countries in terms of the number of positive cases are Morocco, 450,221; Tunisia, 154,903; and Egypt, 147,810. In East Africa, Ethiopia is the most affected country with 127,572 confirmed COVID-19 cases.
As the number of cases keeps rising in Africa, more attention is shifting to when African countries would get the vaccine.