By Babajide Okeowo
The Federal Government has boasted of having enough COVID-19 vaccines to cover over 70 percent of its population by December 2022.
Chairman, Presidential Steering Committee PSC on COVID-19 and Secretary to the Government of the Federation SGF, Mr. Boss Mustapha disclosed this Monday in Abuja at the opening of a two-day national summit on the pandemic.
The Federal Government had recently set 2022 as the target year to end the COVID-19 pandemic, saying, to effectively capture the core elements of its national response, the national summit would help to end COVID-19 in 2022 and as well strengthen Global Health Security.
In his remarks at the event, Mustapha said Nigeria is now in the era of Vaccines and Non-Pharmaceutical Intervention (NPI) measures.
“We need to encourage all eligible persons to get vaccinated and keep observing the washing of hands, wearing of face masks, keep physical distance and avoid crowded areas. Nigeria has invested in enough vaccines that can cover over 70% of our population before the end of 2022. These vaccines are safe and efficacious; hence it is better and safer to be vaccinated against this virus, now”, he stated.
The National COVID-19 Summit aims at bringing all stakeholders together to discuss the Theme: “Pushing Through the Last Mile to End the Pandemic and Build Back Better”.
Mustapha said it will create the opportunity to identify successes, gaps and lessons learnt so far in Nigeria’s National Response to COVID-19 from March 2020 till date “in the bid to develop strategies to actualize the international commitments towards ending COVID-19 before the end of Year 2022”.
According to him, Nigeria’s COVID-19 response has been driven by science, data and experience since then till date.
He said; “The National Response has been driven by a multi-sectoral process which facilitated expansive and in-depth consideration of issues as well as speedy decision making. The process enjoyed the overwhelming support of the partners from the private sector and the international community. Through these partners, Nigeria was able to put in place critical infrastructure nationwide, procure scarce medical equipment, test kits, and personal protective materials, etc.
“Today, we are here to assess the level of impact of our National Response and develop strategies as we push through the last mile to end the pandemic while we build back better. There is no gainsaying that the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria, which was triggered when the index case was confirmed on the 27th of February 2020, precipitated significant disruptions to the healthcare system and socio-economic lives of Nigerians.
“Due to the evolving dynamics of COVID-19 pandemic with progressive mutations of the Virus to more transmissible and deadly variants, the international community has corroborated the insinuation that the pandemic will persist for few more years. This understanding has impelled world leaders recently to come to a conclusion that if efforts are not renewed and aggressive measures are not taken, COVID-19 pandemic will continue to ravage humanity well longer than earlier envisaged. Hence the need to adopt an ambitious (but cautious) agenda to end COVID-19 pandemic by year 2022.
“Consequently, this Summit is a follow-up towards Nigeria’s commitment to the ambitious global agenda/movement to end the COVID-19 pandemic by year 2022 and building back better. Global efforts at ending COVID-19 pandemic are intrinsically linked to the call for nations of the world to take steps towards strengthening their health system and bio-security- which will make for better pandemic preparedness and ability to respond more robustly and swiftly to future pandemics.
“This Summit promises to be very rewarding and at the end, we are all expected to have carried out the following:
“Reviewed the country’s COVID-19 response from February 2020 to November 2021- to identify successes, gaps, and lessons to be learnt;
“Identified resources and develop strategies that will actualize the country’s expressed international commitments towards ending COVID-19 by 31st December 2022;
“Developed an Accountability Framework for COVID-19 response and health security in Nigeria;
“Synthesized the blueprint for Nigeria’s pandemic recovery, reconstruction, health security, and sustainability; and
“Articulated actionable recommendations to President Muhammadu Buhari on the governance structure, resources, and policies needed to end COVID-19 in Nigeria by 31st December 2022, and build back the health system and the economy to better respond to future health-security threats”.