Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s former minister of finance, has assured Nigeria and other African countries of access to COVID-19 vaccines from the end of January through the first quarter of 2021, a statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Wednesday.
The statement quoted Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala as disclosing this at a closed-door meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama in Abuja.
“As long as one person has it 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 was quoted as saying.
Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala is currently the African Union Special Envoy on mobilizing international economic support for the continental fight against COVID-19 and Nigeria’s candidate for the Office of the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation.
She disclosed that the international initiative involved the World Health Organisation, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), GAVI, and the international community, to get vaccines delivered to developing and poorer countries, in an affordable manner and quickly.
According to her, the Pfizer vaccine and the AstraZeneca one were presently being negotiated so that poor countries do not have to stand in a queue behind rich countries.
The former finance minister described Africans as blessed, for not having the same incidence rate of COVID-19 as other continents, but warned African nations against complacency.
Mrs Okonjo-Iweala recalled that a platform called the COVAX facility had been developed with 186 countries on board, saying that the side interested in serving the poor countries had 92 countries, for which resources have been raised to try and get the vaccines to them quickly.
“So, the Pfizer vaccine, the AstraZeneca, those are being negotiated now so that poor countries don’t have to stand in line behind rich countries.
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