Nigeria has written to the African Union requesting 10 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to supplement the COVAX program and has allocated $26 million for licensed vaccine production, health minister Osagie Ehanire said on Monday.
Like other countries in Africa, Nigeria is grappling with a second wave of COVID-19 cases.
Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country of 200 million, has a record of 110,387 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 1,435 deaths as of Monday.
“Nigeria has written to express interest in 10 million doses of the viral vector vaccine, which could be supplied as from March 2021,” Health Minister Osagie Ehanire told reporters in the capital Abuja.
“This vaccine does not require deep freezers.” Ehanire did not mention the name of the vaccine.
He also said the ministry of finance had released 10 billion naira ($26.27 million) to support domestic vaccine output as Nigeria was exploring options of “licensed production in collaboration with recognized institutions”. The government is already in talks with “one or two producers”, he said.
Last week the finance minister said the government was working on the type and quantity of COVID-19 vaccines to procure and would make financial provision for them.
The African Union has secured a provisional 270 million COVID-19 vaccine doses from manufacturers for member states, its chair South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said last week.
Nigerian authorities have said the country is working with the COVAX programme backed by the World Health Organization (WHO) that aims to secure fair access to COVID-19 vaccines for poor countries and expects to receive its first doses in late January and early February.
WHO Africa director Matshidiso Moeti last week said African countries could start to receive the first doses from COVAX by the end of March, with larger deliveries by June.