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Nigeria to get COVID-19 vaccines by January 2021 — Okonjo-Iweala

Nigeria is set to receive COVID-19 vaccines by January 2021, former Minister of Finance Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has said

She stated that those who would first get vaccinated include frontline health workers, followed by older people and those with underlying health conditions.

The safe and effective vaccines will protect against the coronavirus that has killed nearly 1,200 people in the country, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

In the UK, a 90-year-old grandmother Margaret Keenan became the first person to get a vaccine, produced by US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and a German bioNTech firm.

On Wednesday, Okonjo-Iweala said vaccines are expected to be shipped to Nigeria early next year. She emphasised the need for developing countries like Nigeria to get it easily, noting that as long as one person has the coronavirus in the world, “no one is safe”.

“And that is why poorer countries, lower-middle-income countries like Nigeria, need to get it as quickly as possible,” she stressed, while speaking in a closed-door meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama in Abuja.

According to a statement issued by the Ministry, Okonjo-Iweala said the initiative on the COVID-19 vaccine involved the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), GAVI and the international community.

Okonjo-Iweala, who is leading the race for the vacant World Trade Organisation (WTO) Director-General’s position, said Pfizer vaccine and the AstraZeneca were presently being negotiated by the consortium so that poor countries don’t have to stand in a queue behind rich countries.

“So, we hope they are starting by the end of January. We will be able to reach these countries, including most of the African countries. Nigeria included will be able to get access to some of these vaccines,” she added.

Okonjo-Iweala, who is leading the race for the vacant World Trade Organisation (WTO) Director-General’s position, said Pfizer vaccine and the AstraZeneca were presently being negotiated by the consortium so that poor countries don’t have to stand in a queue behind rich countries.

“So, we hope they are starting by the end of January. We will be able to reach these countries, including most of the African countries. Nigeria included will be able to get access to some of these vaccines,” she added.

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