The Federal Government on Friday received samples of Russia’s COVID-19 vaccine.
Russia’s Ambassador to Nigeria, Alexey Shebarshin, delivered the samples to the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, during a visit to the ministry in Abuja.
Also present at the event were the Minister of State for Health, Olorunnimbe Mamora; top management of the Health Ministry and other Nigerian Scientists.
This was contained in a statement signed by the ministry’s Director of Information, Media, and Public Relations, Olujimi Oyetomi.
The statement was titled, ‘Russian Federation Ambassador to Nigeria, H.E. Alexey L. Shebarshin on courtesy visit to Nigeria’s Health Ministers, Russian-made COVID-19 Vaccine finally here.’
The PUNCH had earlier reported that Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin, said his country approved a vaccine offering “sustainable immunity” against the lethal coronavirus.
The World Health Organisation had subsequently said it would review the effectiveness of the vaccine.
Ehanire on Friday also said the vaccine would be “quickly referred” to the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control as well as the Nigeria Institute of Pharmaceutical Research and Development, amongst other agencies, for review and possible validation.
The minister had said Nigeria was working with the WHO for the allocation of 2 billion vaccine doses as soon as they are available.
The need for a vaccine has become more urgent globally and nationally with Nigeria recording over 50,000 COVID-19 infections and over 1,000 associated fatalities, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.
Oyetomi, in the statement, said the Russian envoy said he was at the Health Ministry “to formally hand over the Russian-made Vaccine against COVID-19 to Nigeria with an aide memoir which explains the details for Nigerian teams to study and get ready for further researches, patronage and application.”
The spokesperson also quoted the minister of health as saying, “Nigeria has been participating in series of knowledge exchange and contacts with different research bodies and countries to find solutions to the COVID-19 challenge and had contacted the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Nigeria for right of access immediately the Russian COVID-19 Vaccine was announced.”
“The consensus of decision reached was to quickly refer the vaccine to the necessary professional institutes and agencies of the Federal Ministry of Health beginning with NAFDAC, NIPRD, and for a team of scientists and advisors to the ministry to get to work on possible patronage of the Russian vaccine to alleviate the plight of Nigerians amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“A Ministerial Team is also expected to be raised to continue further engagement with the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Nigeria on the vaccine as well as other areas of interests highlighted at the meeting,” the statement concluded.