No provisions for COVID-19 vaccine in 2021 budget: Health Minister
Nigeria’s health authorities have said the country was yet to make any purchases for coronavirus vaccines, despite a frightening surge in the deadly virus and attendant fatalities.
State health minister Adeleke Mamora told Bloomberg in a recent interview: “We haven’t made any purchases at this point in time.”
Mr. Mamora told the American media outlet that a robust approach towards acquiring vaccines will be set in motion late January, as the Buhari administration was still juggling figures to ascertain the readily available inoculation at an affordable price.
Nigeria remains heavily reliant on handouts from the global COVAX scheme of the World Health Organisation, which provides free vaccines to indigent countries.
A Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 had repeatedly assured that at least 100,000 doses of donated Pfizer vaccines were expected to arrive in the country before the end of January.
Nigerians have, nonetheless, queried why the Buhari government did not tow the path of its global counterparts, who had pre-ordered millions of vaccines from foreign developers in anticipation of a second wave of the dreadful pandemic.
Finance minister Zainab Ahmed riled up many citizens on Tuesday when she disclosed that the national budget for the 2021 fiscal year made no tangible provision for purchase of COVID-19 vaccines.
The minister’s revelation came amidst lofty plans by the federal government to inoculate 40 percent of Nigeria’s population this year.
Reuters reported Mrs. Ahmed to have said that expenses for acquisition of vaccines will be provided for in a “special” supplementary budget, upon submission of the cost of vaccine procurement and logistics by the health ministry.
More than 100,000 Nigerians have been infected by the highly contagious virus with at least 1,000 deaths nationwide.
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