By Bolaji Buhari
The Federal Government has debunked media reports making the rounds that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has delisted Nigeria from the list of African countries to receive its COVID-19 vaccines as misplaced.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed faulted the reports on Saturday while speaking on a radio programme,monitored by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos .
He said Nigeria was still on the list adding that the purported delisting of the country owing to lack of storage facilities to store the vaccines was a misrepresentation of the facts .
“The report is untrue; It is not correct at all.WHO has not delisted Nigeria from the list of vaccine beneficiaries.
“What happened was that Nigeria was to get 100,000 doses of vaccines from Pfizer in January ,which the pharmaceutical company later said would be delivered in February.
“”Even while we were awaiting the delivery for Pfizer’s vaccines ,we had already put in place storage facilities that could store up to 400,000 doses of the vaccine at -70 degree Celsius.
“The is apart from the storage facilities put in place by states in the country . So the issue of lack of storage facilities is not true .
“And you know COVID-19 vaccines are limited in supply and that informed why WHO thought that if countries should get the vaccines based on affordability, so many would not get the vaccines .
“So they decided to deliver millions of doses to countries that might not be able to get them easily.
“So they promised Nigeria 41 million doses free with the initial delivery of 16 million doses of Oxford -AstraZeneca vaccinee to come this month “, he said .
The minister said the WHO opted to send Oxford’s vaccines first because it could be stored in a relatively higher temperature .
Mohammed, however, said all vaccines sent into the country would have to be certified safe by NAFDAC before they would be accepted.
On the Executive Order recently signed by President Muhammadu Buhari to compel the adherence to safety measures against COVID-19,the minister said the step was taken to safeguard the health of citizens .
He said the President took the step as many citizens were not adhering to extant COVID-19 safety protocols.
The minister appealed to citizens to always take precautions against the pandemic to guarantee their safety and that of others .
He said the Federal Government had implemented a lot of intiatives under its Economic Sustainable Plan to mitigate the effects of the pandemic on citizens and businesses.
He said the initiatives such as Payroll Support ,Grants to artisans had benefited hundreds of thousands of Nigerians.
Mohammed said the government was committed to making life better for all citizens and would continue to implement programmes to positively impact on the lives of Nigerians.