On February 6, 2021, the Punch Newspaper published a report online with the headline, “WHO disqualifies Nigeria, eight others from global vaccine bid.”
The report claimed that the World Health Organisation-led COVAX global initiative has disqualified Nigeria and eight other countries for bidding for the Pfizer vaccines.
According to the report, WHO’s decision follows Nigeria’s inability to meet the standard requirement needed for storage of the vaccines at the required -70 degrees Celsius.
The report by Punch newspaper on the disqualification of Nigeria from the Pfizer vaccine bid is false.
The WHO representative in Nigeria, Dr. W. Kazadi Mulombo said the ‘’WHO is part of Covax facility and can never disqualify a Member State from accessing an approved vaccine for their population.’’
Dr. Mulombo made this known through his Twitter handle @WMulombo.
He further to called on members of the press in Nigeria and globally to contribute to fighting misinformation around COVID-19.
In a press conference to address the issue, organized by the WHO in Nigeria and National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr. Kazadio said that “The World Health Organisation has not disqualified any country in Africa from accessing #COVID19 vaccines through the COVAX facility, but rather, is supporting all countries to access vaccines as quickly as possible.”
He explained that in addition to the AstraZeneca doses, there was an initial limited volume of Pfizer vaccine available through COVAX.
“On the African continent, as of the 18th January, COVAX received 13 submissions and a multi-agency committee evaluated the proposals of which 9 were recommended as ready to deploy the Pfizer vaccine including Nigeria,” Mulombo said.
Also, a review of the press briefing by Dr Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa, which the Punch Newspaper and others relied on to publish the report shows that the global health body did not disqualify Nigeria from any global vaccine bid.
“In much-awaited news, the COVAX facility has informed African countries of the first allocations of the COVID-19 vaccine. Nearly 90 million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine could start arriving on the continent later this month. This is subject to WHO listing the vaccine for emergency use. The review is ongoing, and its outcome is expected soon.’’ She said.
The press statement also explained that proposals for the initial 320,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to be allocated to four African countries were evaluated based on current mortality rates, new cases and trends and capacities to store the vaccine at minus 70 degrees Celsius.
The countries are Cape Verde, Rwanda, South Africa and Tunisia.
Fact-checkers at the CDD also went through the Gavi website to ascertain if Nigeria has been disqualified. Gavi is co-leading COVAX, the vaccines pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator. This involves coordinating the COVAX Facility, a global risk-sharing mechanism for pooled procurement and equitable distribution of eventual COVID-19 vaccines.
The CDD discovered that COVAX Interim Distribution Forecast shows that Nigeria is in line to receive 16,000,000 doses of vaccines through the facility.
The claim by the Punch Newspaper in its frontpage headline that the WHO has disqualified Nigeria from the global vaccine bid is false.
Evidence shows Nigeria is still part of the COVAX -Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator.
CDD is urging the public to always verify the authenticity of stories before sharing them.
You can forward suspicious messages for verification via +2349062910568 or contact us on twitter @CDDWestAfrica
Center for Democracy and Development West Africa| CDD West Africa