'Historic Moment': Nearly 4 Million COVID-19 Vaccines Arrive in Nigerian Capital

The arrival of 3.92 million COVID-19 vaccines in the Nigerian capital of Abuja on March 2 was celebrated by UNICEF, Nigerian leaders, the World Health Organization, and others involved in the operation.

The vaccines were procured through the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access program, otherwise known as COVAX, an initiative led by The Vaccine Alliance (GAVI) in partnership with UNICEF, the WHO, and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to provide vaccines to underserved areas.

“Today is a good day for Nigeria,” wrote Dr. Faisal Shuaib, head of Nigeria’s National Primary Health Care Development Agency. “Thanks to our team who have worked hard in preparation for this moment, we are ready to start administering doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to frontline health workers.”

UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa Marie-Pierre Poirier said “the pride and excitement of our UNICEF staff are palpable during this historic moment,” as she tweeted a video from the airport of UNICEF Nigeria Communication Specialist Safiya Akau welcoming the delivery.

The WHO’s representative to Nigeria, Dr. Walter Kazadi Mulombo, was also jubilant, tweeting: “What a day in history! Privileged to witness the arrival of the first batch of the AstraZeneca vaccine.”

On the same day, more than 620,000 COVAX vaccines arrived in Angola, and a day earlier, Ghana and Ivory Coast became the first countries in Africa to begin vaccinations through COVAX, the WHO said.

The University of Oxford, which helped develop the vaccine, tweeted: “We continue to follow through on our commitment with @AstraZeneca to protect everyone everywhere, with tens of millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccine being made available at no profit to 146 low- and middle-income countries through @gavi’s COVAX programme.” Credit: UNICEF via Storyful