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WHO did not disqualify Nigeria from receiving COVID-19 vaccines as claimed by opposition

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Claim: PDP claims Nigeria is disqualified by WHO from the list of nations to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

The information provided by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that Nigeria is disqualified by WHO from receiving the COVID-19 vaccine is not true. The WHO communications officer confirmed the information as false. 

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The novel COVID-19 pandemic  came with an overpowering novelty that even advanced nations were overwhelmed by its pressing flanks. Even experts in virology seemed to have flunked out of ideas at the early stage of the pandemic. However, so much improvement  was  subsequently made especially  in discovering precautionary ways to curtail the spread of the virus and the development of a vaccine. 

This improvement, primarily as regards the actualization of a COVID-19 vaccine, has within the past months steered multiple news reports on how countries will acquire  the COVID-19 vaccine. In January 2021,  Governor Kayode Fayemi, head of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, said “Nigeria is among 12 countries in Africa that have indicated the readiness of the 92 qualified countries for the facility and will by the end of February 2021 receive its first shipment of vaccines,” Fayemi said. 

However, a recent claim seems to dispute Mr. Fayemi’s assertions. On Twitter, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), a strong opposition party to the ruling party, All Progressives Congress (APC), claims Nigeria is disqualified by WHO from the list of nations to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The claimants affirmed that the incidence was due to  the inability of President Buhari’s administration to provide a simple storage facility for the vaccine. 

The claim was tweeted as a thread alongside a version of the same tweet in   a press statement copy. 

PDP’s press statement containing details about the claim

The outlined message in the press release  and the tweet boils down to the acclaimed failure of the present government to provide a COVID-19 storage facility. However, Yusuf Yunusa(@yyunusa) inquired that  “Who is the handler of these fake news spreaders?” While also implying that the information is false. DUBAWA examined multiple information about  COVID-19 vaccines that both had an element of truth and lie. However, one thing that is  apparent is the ability of such information to garner people’s attention and if false, easily mislead them. This situation encouraged DUBAWA to uncover the truth in this information. 

Verification

DUBAWA reached out to Kate Ribet, Communications Officer COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout, WHO Regional Office for Africa who replied via an email. On the question of WHO’s disqualification of Nigeria for the COVID-19 vaccine, she clarified that “WHO  has not disqualified any country in Africa from accessing COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX facility, but rather the organisation is supporting all countries to access vaccines as quickly as possible.

Currently, all countries on the continent are expected to start accessing the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccines by the end of February. The vaccine is under review by WHO for Emergency Use Listing and the outcome is expected soon.

Of the 88 million AstraZeneca doses allocated to African countries for the first phase, Nigeria has received by far the largest allocation, with 16 million doses.”

She further explained:

“In addition to the Astra Zeneca doses, there is an initial limited volume of Pfizer vaccine available through COVAX. Demand for the initial allocation of 1.2 million Pfizer doses was exceptionally high. COVAX received interest from 72 countries around the world, of which 51 countries were considered by the review committee as “ready” (Nigeria was among these countries) and 18 countries in total were finally chosen to receive initial Pfizer doses. On the Africa continent, as of the 18 January deadline, COVAX received 13 submissions, of which 9 were recommended as ready to deploy the Pfizer vaccine and the list includes Nigeria.

Regarding the delay in supply of the vaccine to Nigeria, she said:

“Unfortunately, it was not feasible to provide each of these 51 countries with Pfizer doses, due to a number of factors including the limited capacity for Pfizer to handle many countries at once. Therefore, spreading the limited doses across all the 51 countries deemed ‘ready’ could not have achieved the intended public health benefit.  After epidemiological self-financing to account, the decision was taken to proportionally balance the number of self-financing and AMC Participants, as well as Participants across all 6 WHO regions.”

Her response indicates that Nigeria is not disqualified from countries that will receive the COVID-19 vaccine and in fact, the country is only waiting for its turn. 

Conclusion 

The information provided by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that Nigeria is disqualified by WHO from receiving the COVID-19 vaccine is not true. The World Health Organization’s communications officer confirmed the information as false. 

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