OrderPaperToday – The Senate on Thursday called on the Federal Government to procure and administer COVID-19 vaccines to Nigerians.

Their decision followed a motion moved by the Chairman Senate Committee on Health, Ibrahim Oloriegbe, during plenary.

The Senator noted that key measures being implemented for the covid-19 now are the promotion of hand washing, wearing of face masks and social distancing.

He however expressed worry that the level of compliance with these measures have been diminishing and the level of testing, detection and isolation of confirmed cases in the country have been reducing.

Oloriegbe stated that some countries have approved Covid-19 vaccines and are administering to their citizens and many others have completed plans on the procurement, distribution and administration of the vaccines to their citizens.

He lamented that Nigeria has not produce a plan for the procurement, distribution and administration of the vaccine to Nigerians.

According to him, the only plan on Covid-l9 vaccine for Nigeria is the pledge by Global Alliance for Vaccine Initiative (GAVl) to support 20% of the country’s vaccine requirement.

“This support will cover only the cost of the vaccines without taking care of logistics requirement for distribution and administration”, he said.

He further stated that despite the change in the epidemiology trends of the disease, the financial plan developed by the country and World Bank in April 2020 to fund the response to the pandemic is still being implemented without taking due cognizance to the changes by re-allocating the funds to vaccine procurement.

He continued: “Failure to administer vaccines to Nigeria will result in the country the Covid-19 infection and a possible ban on not being able to control travelling by Nigerians may be instituted by countries around the world

“The consequence of non-administration of the vaccine to Nigerians will include worsening social and economy situation.”

From his motion, the red chamber also resolved to direct its committees on Health and Primary Health Care to invite the Federal Ministry of Health, the Presidential Task Force on Covid-l9, the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), the National Agency for Food and Drugs Control (NAFDAC), NCDC, Federal Ministry of Finance and other relevant government agency to present details of plan approval, Protocol, Funding, Procurement, Administration and Monitoring of Covid-l9 vaccine in Nigeria.

The committees are to report back to the Senate in two weeks.

Recall the advent of the virus was from Wuhan-China in December 2019.

Nigeria experienced its first index case of Covid-19 on 28th February, 2020 with the diagnosis of an Italian citizen who was a consultant to Lafarge Company in Ewekoro-Ogun State.

Between 28th February 2020 and 2nd December, 2020 67, 960 cases of the Covid-19 has been reported in Nigeria. 1177 persons diagnosed with the condition have died and 63,839 has been discharged.

In his remarks, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan advised that the funds should either be included in 2021 budget or in the supplementary budget.

For him, the federal government should acquire the best and it should first be administered to health workers before politicians.

He said: “Let me emphasis that if we are not able to capture this – the required funds, for the procurement of the vaccines, we should start thinking of doing that in the 2021 appropriation act, then we will need a supplementary budget because this is a matter of life and death.

“Secondly, the procurement process itself, the committees of the National Assembly must ensure that our country goes for the best, no cutting corners, because if you take the wrong vaccines, you may survive covid-19 but not survive the vaccines.

“The logistic aspect is important. Whatever the specification must be considered. Who takes first, our health personnel. We should take cue from others, it must not be a big man first, rather those at the front line.”

Recall that the senate had earlier in the year called for establishment of food reserve agency due to the pandemic, among many other interventions it made.

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