What Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine could mean for Nigerians

When COVID-19 spiked globally and the world virtually came to a halt, people prayed for one thing – a vaccine that can curtail the virus and restore the world back to normal

We have seen a number of ‘breakthrough’ in the development of a solution for the global pandemic. From engineered drugs to regular home remedies, to herbs and a number of concoctions with hopes of killing the virus. However, the coronavirus appeared stronger.

As cases are surging in some parts of the world, there appear a relief in sight with the announcement of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine on Monday, 9 November 2020. Pfizer and its partner, German company, BioNTech, announced preliminary results that hinted their vaccine is very effective – and of course it has created curiosity globally.

It was in July when Pfizer and BioNTech initiated a late-stage clinical trial on a coronavirus vaccine and so far, the analysis from the trial has positioned the vaccine as 90% effective.

When the news broke, social media users celebrated the feat, with many calling it a progress in the fight that has gotten world affairs tangled up since March. There are, however, still some concerns that were also raised. And while Nigerians are very much focused on a few other (pressing) issues like the #EndSARS protest, this vaccine should also concern them.

With this new development, the question on many people’s lips is: who will get the vaccine first? Nigerians are yet to ask this question yet.

In a New York Times article, Pfizer’s chief executive, Albert Burla, has said that 30 to 40 million doses of the vaccine are to be developed before the end of the year. According to him, it will be just enough for 15 to 20 million people to get an initial shot and a booster three weeks later. But who exactly is qualified? When compared to the US, France, India and Italy, the active coronavirus cases in Nigeria is relatively small. The US alone has
over ten million cases. Assuming the vaccine is to be distributed based on the number of cases, it will be overstretched to demand that Nigerians get considered with over sixty-four thousand active cases. Hopefully, the distribution is not appearing to look so with UK vaccine chief, Kate Bingham, already landing a number of vaccines for the UK.

The Nigerian government has often appeared as negligent to health related issues. In 2001, there was a controversy with the distribution of HIV antiretroviral drugs to positive patients and children. It was also in that year that the Nigerian government had an issue with Pfizer over a lawsuit which claimed that the company violated international law by failing to obtain detailed consent from children and their parents before giving them Trovan for meningitis during an epidemic of the disease in the country.

In the response from the company, they claimed that they had received approval from both federal and the Kano government where the clinical trial happened.

With this development, Nigeria’s president in a tweet, appreciated the progress and begged for equal distribution of the vaccine. And where it appears that for most Nigerians, a lot of attention is being geared on the #EndSARS and the revolution that many Nigerians are calling for, it is easy to forget that coronavirus is still a thing. It’s easy to forget that cases are rising and most importantly, there already is a vaccine. If for anything, Nigerians should charge their government to land a deal for the distribution and accessibility of the vaccine to Nigeria.

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