N10.6bn Covid-19 vaccine distribution cost fake news –FG

From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja

The Federal Government has described as fake news media reports that it has budgeted the sum of N10.6 billion to transport Covid-19 vaccine to the 36 states and the 774 local government areas as well as the Federal Capital Territory and the five area councils.

Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Faisal Shuaib, debunked the report after the brief ceremony where President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo received the first doses of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine in Abuja, yesterday.

President Buhari and Vice President Osinbajo got the jab live on television a day after the Covid-19 national vaccine programme commenced with the vaccination of healthcare and frontline workers at the National Hospital, Abuja.

Shuaib explained that the private sector-led Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID), had already undertaken to distribute the vaccines to states at no cost to the government.

He said: “I mean, I’m hearing this from you for the first time. It doesn’t make any sense that on the one hand, we’ve communicated very clearly to Nigerians that the Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID), a private sector initiative, has provided a cargo plane that will help deliver the vaccines from Abuja to all states that have functional airports. For those that do not have functional airports, there is a delivery van that will convey the vaccines from those airports to the nearby states.

 “I do not see how that is going to cost N10 billion. So there is no truth in that information. The truth is what I have told you, which is that CACOVID has taken up the responsibility of delivering the vaccines from Abuja to the states. The only cost we›re going to incur is the cost of delivering the vaccines from any airport to nearby states that don›t have functional airports. Clearly that cannot be N10.6 billion.”

When asked what the actual cost would be, he said: “You can do the Math on the back of an envelope and you know that it cannot be anything close to a billion naira right? So I believe that CACOVID has already identified that cost as something they are going to take care of. I do not know how much it’s going to cost them, but that is something that they have already identified as a cost they will bear and we’re working together with them.

“So it is not correct to say that the Federal Government is going to be expending N10.6 billion to transport vaccines to the state. That is incredulous.”

On the latest development on the 100,000 doses of Pfizer vaccines, the NPHCDA boss said: “So what happened was that there was a committee that met at global level, and took the decision that it made more sense for Nigeria to get 16 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccines rather than 100,000 doses of Pfizer.