The former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala told Nigerians that the COVID-19 vaccine will be available for Nigerians and other African countries by Q1 of 2021.

This acclamation was made after a closed-door meeting with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeanma in Abuja.

In her words, she said.

“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”,

Dr. Okonjo-Iweala is currently the African Union Special Envoy on Mobilizing International Economic Support for the Continental Fight against COVID-19.

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She is also a candidate for the Office of the Director-General of the World Trade Organization.

She made mention that the International Initiative involved the World Health Organization, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), GAVI, and the International Community, are working hand in hand to ensure that the COVID-19 get delivered to the poor and developing countries across the world in an affordable and less expensive manner.

According to her, the Pfizer vaccine and the AstraZeneca were presently being negotiated so that poor countries don’t have to stand in a queue behind rich countries.

Dr. Okonjo-Iweala described Nigera as blessed, for not having the same incidence rate of COVID-19 like other continents, but warned African nations against complacency.

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.

In her word,

“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.

“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.

Initially, it will be for frontline health workers, followed by some other target groups – older people, those with underlying conditions and then, from there, the rest of the population. I think the COVAX facility can cover maybe 20-23 per cent of the population by the end of next year,” Okonjo-Iweala said.

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