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Nigerian government has not bought COVID-19 vaccines, says Health Minister

Nigeria hasn’t bought any Covid-19 vaccines yet as Africa’s most populous nation is still assessing the prices of different shots, their availability and the logistics required in a nationwide roll-out.

Minister of State for Health Adeleke Olurunnimbe Mamora said that once the government determines which vaccines are accessible and affordable, authorities then have to consider storage and distribution issues as they prepare to give shots to 200 million people.

“We haven’t made any purchases at this point in time,” Mamora, who is the second most senior official at the ministry, told Bloomberg in a phone interview. He added that the government expects to have a definitive plan by the end of January.

An ambitious goal to vaccinate as much as 40% of Nigeria’s population this year has been questioned by a state governor and experts, who said there’s a lack of resources and infrastructure in a nation plagued by daily power outages and derelict roads and bridges.

Faisal Shuaib, chief executive officer of Nigeria’s National Primary Health Care Development Agency, said on Thursday the country expects to receive 100,000 doses of Pfizer Inc.’s shot at the end of January through the Covax initiative. In an interview with Bloomberg TV, Shuaib said the West African nation has secured services for ultra-cold storage facilities to keep and distribute the vaccines.

Covax is a global initiative back by the World Health Organization which aims to provide equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines.

Although the number of infections in Africa has paled in comparison to other regions, a spike in cases has raised fears the pathogen could be spreading more rapidly in a continent ill-prepared for it.

Hospitals across Africa, from South Africa to Senegal and Zimbabwe, are struggling with a surge in infections that’s overwhelming health facilities already lacking beds, basic equipment and staff.

Nigeria has officially reported 107,345 cases, with 1,413 deaths, but testing is not easily accessible for most people, with only about 1.1 million having been performed so far.

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