THE Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, on Thursday said that the vaccine is the only weapon for eliminating the COVID-19 pandemic.
He explained that extant non-pharmaceutical interventions, including handwashing, sanitizing, proper wearing of face masks, and social distancing, can only reduce the spread of the disease, and not eliminate the pandemic.
Ihekweazu added that the NCDC, the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and the Federal Ministry of Health will educate Nigerians on the benefits of the vaccine, which should be available in the first quarter of next year.
He said in Abuja: “No medical intervention, not one, has saved more lives since the beginning of mankind than vaccination. No surgery, no medicine, not even antibiotics, has saved more lives as vaccines. Vaccines are simply the miracles of medicines. We have completely eradicated polio and smallpox through vaccines.
“To be honest, by the time we get these vaccines sometimes in the first quarter of next year, there will be hundreds of millions of people that would have already received these vaccines. There are a lot of narratives about possible harm. If there is anyone that is still skeptical in March or April, he or she would have to look around the world and see people who have received the vaccine and are beginning to return to a life of normal.
“I want us by next year to be able to go back to our normal lives, and this is our license and one opportunity. As hard as we try with these non-pharmaceutical interventions of wearing face masks and maintaining social distancing, we can only reduce transmission but we will not be able to eliminate the virus without the vaccine. We have seen in many countries that thought that they had gotten beyond this, only to see a re-introduction happening again.
“So, it is the collective will of the government to do everything possible to get as many vaccines into this country and get it into the arms of Nigerians, because it is only when we get people vaccinated that we have a chance of getting ahead of this coronavirus.
“We are going to work very hard to educate all Nigerians on the benefits of this vaccine, and the opportunity it gives us to return to our lives. The agency responsible for the delivery of these vaccines is the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA). Of course, the Presidential Task Force will provide the leadership together with the Federal Ministry of Health.”
The governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, posited that instead of using N540 billion to procure vaccines, it would be better to invest it on infrastructural development and rejuvenating health institutions across the country.
He said: “The country is going to expend N540 billion on the purchase of vaccines. For instance, in Kogi State today, we are building a multi-billion Naira hospital that is going to have every treatment you can ever think of in terms of medical and health care service delivery. It is worth just N4.7 billion. Therefore, if we are going to spend N10 billion per health institution, it will cater to a more deadly disease and not covid-19 that has 99.9 percent chances of recovery rates. There are more deadly diseases that are killing every day.”