Mr. Ted Chaiban, an Inter-agency Global Lead Coordinator for COVID-19 Vaccine Country Readiness and Delivery, appointed by the UN Secretary at the level of Assistant Secretary-General, is in Nigeria to monitor and ensure accelerated delivery of vaccines, its safe storage and use. Working in partnership with UNICEF, WHO, GAVI, World Bank, many bilateral governments and civil society organisations (CSOs), he said his mission is to help Nigeria to succeed in the fight against COVID-19 in the shortest possible time that would look like a miracle, Senior Correspondent FANEN IHYONGO reports.



His port of call at the weekend was Kano State, where he paid courtesy call on Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje at the Government House. The governor quickly requested that Kano should be made vaccines hub for the northern region; a request the visitor agreed to.

From Government House, Chaiban proceeded straight to the COVID-19 vaccination site at Gwagwarwa PHC, Nasarawa Local Government Area to see with his eyes the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines at service. He interacted with service providers and clients there to know the areas needing support.

The North-west Zonal Cold Store at Naibawa, Zaria Road, Kano, also played host to Mr. Chaiban, who assessed its existing capacity and space available for expansion.

He also visited the Emergency Operations Centre, Abdullahi Wase Hospital, Nassarawa, where he met with the Commissioner of Health, Aminu Ibrahim Tsanyawa, and was given updates on COVID-19 vaccination performance, gaps and the need to scale vaccination at state level.

After the on-site visits and supervision, it was time to interface with media practitioners, and in a brief interview, Chaiban disclosed that the four types of vaccines: Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Johnson, Johnson’s Janssen and Moderna, which are available in the country, are safe and in good stock for mass vaccination. He hinted that the issues of short supply and short life span of the vaccines experienced in Nigeria last year have been addressed and Nigeria is now getting more supplies.

On February 23, the NCDC reported that 42 new confirmed cases were recorded in Nigeria.

“Till date, 254,352 cases have been confirmed, 230,861 cases have been discharged and 3,142 deaths have been recorded in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory. The 42 new cases are reported from five states – Lagos (25), FCT (13), Kaduna (2), Kano (1), and Oyo (1),” the disease control centre said.

Nigeria has a population of 214.9 million persons as at today, according to Worldometer elaboration of the latest United Nations data. And the country is currently at 6.7 per cent of vaccine coverage.

For several reasons, many believe it is practically impossible to vaccinate the entire population. But Chaiban said every Nigerian can be vaccinated within 100 days or latest six months.

How could this be done?

He said all Nigeria needs to do is to “accelerate vaccines delivery” by multiplying efforts, by tripling amount of vaccine teams in states. For example, Kano which has 477 vaccine teams should have 1,431 vaccine teams.

He suggested that Nigeria should not narrow vaccination in healthcare centres but should decentralise vaccination points to include shopping malls and markets, to motor parks where people catch the bus, to churches, mosques and to naming ceremonies, etc, where health workers can catch the population and vaccinate people.

He also emphasised that people who got their first dose must be actively called back to come and get their second dose (full vaccination).

practitioners to strengthen the UN’s, UNICEF’s efforts, by mobilising Nigerian people, educating them on the importance of the vaccine and encouraging them to be vaccinated.

Nigeria currently at 6.7% of vaccine coverage

Chaiban said: “In 2021, the supply of COVID-19 vaccine was limited. But the situation is improving and the concern is moving towards issues of delivery and getting vaccines into the hands of the people.

“Our mission, as COVID-19 delivery partners in Nigeria, is to support Nigeria for the acceleration. Nigeria is currently at 6.7 per cent of vaccine coverage when it comes to COVID-19, but is taking steps to accelerate that delivery.

“We had excellent discussions at the federal level and in Kano State, in terms of specific steps to be taken to accelerate the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines.

“Among the steps agreed upon to be taken include doing state by state plan, one plan, one budget at the state level, increasing the number of vaccination teams so we have more vaccination teams in each of the wards across the country, using community volunteers to mobilise the population and accelerate delivery and continuing to invest in the cold chain so that vaccines, not just COVID-19, can be safely stored.

“We want to do the COVID-19 vaccination as quickly as possible because COVID-19 is a serious and deadly disease. It has profound health consequences on people around the world.

“It has had the worst economic consequences on development since the 19th Century and needs to be defeated, and Nigeria is poised to set example in the next 100 days in terms of acceleration.

“In Kano, we met with Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje and he has shown the leadership in his vaccination efforts by being one of the first to be vaccinated in March of 2021.

“We met with state officials including the health commissioner, the team from NPHCDA, and it is clear that there is very strong commitment to move forward with 2019 vaccination.

The Kano situation

“In the last 60 days or the last two months, Kano State had gone from 1 per cent to 21 per cent. People vaccinated with one dose, through a very strong mobilisation. If we can get the second dose into the hands of the people who had received the first dose, Kano will jump even further up the scale of national execution.

“We, as partners, are committed to mobilise the resources; help multiply the number of vaccination teams; actively follow up on people so that they come back for their second dose; to work with religious and traditional leaders in order to convince and encourage the population to get vaccinated and to invest in the cold chain so that the vaccines can be stored safely.

“Kano is the hub for the whole of the north and it can be an example of how quickly we can move to address this terrible disease. The partners involved include UNICEF, WHO, GAVI, the World Bank, many bilateral governments and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), all working together to support Nigeria to succeed.

Improvement on vaccines’ life span and supply

“There were issues with the supply of vaccines and short life of the vaccines in 2021. But these issues have largely been addressed and Nigeria now has a good stock of supply and is getting more supplies.

“The vaccines’ short life and short supply have improved significantly, with Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Johnson, Johnson’s Janssen (J&J) and Moderna, all available now in the country.

“And we have predictability of what is coming. So, the big difference between 2022 and 2021 is that countries can now plan for

their vaccinations in the next six months and the plans are now country focused.

“The country itself can make its projections and ask for the vaccines it needs to be able to move forward, which is why we are now putting the emphasis on addressing the delivery bottlenecks.

“This is because the supply issues have significantly improved and largely been addressed and now we need to use the vaccines that are available.

Kano as vaccine hub for North

“I represent several agencies that we are working together -UNICEF, WHO and GAVI. We are working closely with the World Bank and other partners.

“On the issue of the vaccine hub in Kano, I am pleased to say that this is something that UNICEF and GAVI, as key partners in COVID 19 vaccine delivery partnership, have agreed to do.

“So this is something that has been committed to and the plans are under implementation. It is part of the strengthening of the cold chain accompanying this COVID-19 delivery acceleration and is also part of what will be done to strengthen routine immunisation because we want to do COVID-19 immunisation in a matter that it also strengthens routine immunisations. It is something that it is committed to and it will happen.

How safe are the vaccines available in Nigeria?

“Billions of vaccines of all different types of COVID-19 have been administered throughout the world to date and proven in a wide variety of context to be safe.

“What you need, in the case of any disease, is to weigh the risk of the disease against the risk of not being vaccinated.

“What is absolutely clear is that COVID-19 vaccination is a proven public health strategy that will protect you from serious disease and it is highly recommended by World Health Organisation and all the health centres including the health centres in Nigeria to get the vaccines.

“So, there is no vaccine that is administered in the Nigerian territory that has not gone to the global regulatory authority and the national regulatory authority. And when they approve these vaccines for use, they make sure the vaccines are safe.

“So, it is only essential that you are vaccinated, because it is one of your best protections against the disease, in addition to wearing face masks, washing hands and keeping reasonable social distance in public places.

“So, these are the measures with which we can fight this disease that has claimed so many lives.

Can one contract the virus after complete vaccination?

“No vaccine is 100 per cent effective. It is possible to still get COVID-19 even if you had done the full schedule vaccination.

“But what is important is that your risk of both getting and transmitting the disease is low, and especially effective is the role that the vaccine can play in making sure that you do not get a severe form of the disease.

“So, even if you do not get the disease, be fully vaccinated so that the chances or the risk that you get a severe form of the disease are very low. And at the end of the day, that is what you want.

“What you want is that you do not end up being hospitalised or do not end up with severe consequences as a result of the disease. Which is why anyone who gets the chance to be vaccinated, starting with front line workers, apart from the elderly people with underlined conditions, anyone who is eligible to get the vaccination should be urged to do so.

“And we really rely on the press to give accurate information about immunisation to the public domain. And actually, it is something you should have yourselves