COVID-19 Vaccines Procurement - BUA, CACOVID and Public Interest

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Tuesday, 09 February 2021 / 06:37AM / News and Opinion / Header Image Credit: BUA/CACOVID/Ecographics

 

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BUA Group, a member of the steering committee of CACOVID, responded yesterday evening to a statement issued by CACOVID on Monday, February 08, 2021, disavowing the press release issued by BUA  that the company purchased one million doses of COVID-19 vaccine for Nigeria.

 

The Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) is the Private Sector task force spearheaded by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), in partnership with the Federal Government, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) with the sole aim of combating Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Nigeria; tasked with pulling resources across industries to provide technical and operational support while providing funding and building advocacy through aggressive awareness drives. 

 

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Source: BUA Group and CaCovid 

 

The Bone of Contention versus Public Interest 

Straight off the bat, and sadly so; it is obvious that two or more entities are at odds with each other on the approach, means, and credits on this important intervention. Clearly, BUA is at odds with the coalition, and vice versa it would seem from the tone, content and medium of delivery of the released statements.

 

At a time when African nations are being asked to wait before receiving adequate Covid-19 vaccines approved by the World Health Organization (WHO), a lot more is expected of Nigeria's private sector leadership, one that has demonstrated an admirable public-private working relationship in addressing, containing and managing the pandemic thus far.

 

To appreciate the severity of the challenge confronting the country, recall that in January 2021, it was reported by the BBC that "close to 900 million doses have been secured so far through various initiatives, enough to inoculate about 30% of the continent's 1.3 billion people this year. Hoarding by wealthy nations, funding shortfalls, regulations and cold chain requirements have slowed the process of rolling out the vaccines."

 

The thinking in the organised private sector is that we should be pulling closer together to make the developing nations and institutions more accountable to the catastrophic moral failure it has shown thus far, by seemingly ignoring and doing less to contain the number of lives and livelihoods that will be lost in the poorest countries of the world, indeed in Africa.

 

According to the WHO DG, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, "close to 40 million doses have been administered in at least 49 higher-income countries, compared to just 25 doses given in just one of the lowest-income countries. Not 25 million, not 25,000, just 25," he said, without saying which country.

 

So far, none of the main, western vaccines has yet been administered in Africa, almost three months after the first doses were rolled out in Europe. Over the weekend, South Africa suspended the use of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine after it failed to clearly stop virus variant. We have yet to discover what works and what would not work.

 

These are what CACOVID was designed to focus on, and why the one (1) million doses, small as it may appear relative to population; should be procured without delay; and hopefully, guidelines for its allocation, distribution and prioritisation will equally be released on time, along with a time-table for the vaccine roll-out.

 

This is important, not just as a signaling to our economy but more importantly, a major boost for the mental health of the citizens dealing with higher levels of uncertainty, fear and financial challenges arising from the pandemic's impact on lives and livelihood.

 

The Governance structure of CACOVID was designed to respond to challenges such as this and as shown below; it should be made to work. If there is a need to review same, then it should be done sooner than later.

 

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Source: Proshare Research/CACOVID

 

Below are the statements issued by respective entities; reproduced for context, insight, reflection and record purposes. 

 

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BUA Replies CACOVID - Don't Play Politics with Nigerian Lives 

BUA receives with utter shock, reports allegedly attributed to CACOVID, disowning its earlier payment through CACOVID for 1 million AstraZeneca doses for Nigeria via the AFREXIM vaccine platform.

 

At the CACOVID Steering Committee meeting held today February 8, 2021 (of which BUA is a member), members were informed by the CBN Governor that CACOVID had been given the opportunity through the Afrexim Platform to access and pay for 1million doses, provided payment was made today or tomorrow - failure which the opportunity to get those doses next week may be lost.

 

After extensive deliberations, there was no agreement reached and despite members being offered the opportunity to donate funds towards procuring the doses, none offered. BUA then took it upon itself to offer to pay for the 1million doses at the agreed rate of US$3.45 per dose totalling US$3,450,000.00 which translates to 1.311billion Naira.

 

The Chairman of BUA also requested through the CBN governor that the Naira equivalent be paid to the relevant account with CBN, and that CBN forward the dollar payment to Afrexim on CACOVID's behalf.

 

This payment was made immediately after the meeting and BUA transferred the money to the CBN (see payment confirmation below) in order to meet the deadline. However, with this development by the CACOVID operations committee, we now have just cause to believe that some members of CACOVID were not happy that BUA took this initiative in the interest of Nigeria and to ensure that the deadline was met to receive the one million doses of the vaccine next week.

 

BUA did this gesture in good faith as it has done with its interventions throughout the pandemic.

 

We will however like to state clearly that we are aware that a prominent member of CACOVID is not happy that BUA took the initiative to pay for the vaccines - fulfilling our pledge just as we said during the meeting. Now they want to scuttle it by this action because they were unable to take the initiative.

 

We find this release by CACOVID to be very petty and unbecoming of seemingly serious corporate citizens because it is tantamount to playing politics with the lives of Nigerians. This is no time for politics. It is time for us to come together to help Nigerians and it does not matter who is helping or paying.

 

We stand ready to keep supporting and despite this petty action, we have decided to let the money remain in the CACOVID Account with the CBN pending when they are ready to utilize the funds for Nigerians to access the vaccines.

 

Signed:

BUA GROUP

 

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Source: BUA Group 

 

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CACOVID Disowns BUA Contribution of Covid-19 Vaccine 

CACOVID is dismayed to learn of reports on social media today alleging that BUA is singlehandedly purchasing 1 million Covid-19 vaccine doses for Nigeria. Alhaji Abdulsamad must have been misquoted because these claims are not factual as CACOVID operates on a collegiate fund contribution model. There is no agreement between BUA, CACOVID and Afreximbank.

 

During the CACOVID weekly call of February 8th, Governor Godwin Emefiele, relayed to the larger group a call that he held with Alhaji Aliko Dangote  and Herbert Wigwe  with Afreximbank President, Benedict Oramah  on Sunday Feb 7th. President Oramah briefed the 3 CACOVID leaders on the $2 billion facility the Bank has set up with the African Union Vaccine taskforce to purchase vaccines for the African Continent. The allocation for Nigeria has been capped at 42 million doses. President Oramah explained that 1 million doses were ready for shipment to Nigeria in the next 2 weeks if a down payment was made by today, February 8th.

 

At today's meeting, CACOVID leadership agreed to contribute $100 million to procure vaccines for Nigeria, these 1 million doses from Afreximbank worth $3.45 million, being the very first tranche. CACOVID will purchase vaccines through other credible and subsidized mechanisms such as COVAX.

 

The vaccines will be delivered to Nigeria and distributed through the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA).

 

CACOVID would like the Nigerian public to understand that vaccine purchase is only possible through the Federal Government of Nigeria, and that no individual or company can purchase vaccines directly from any legitimate and recognized manufacturer.

 

Signed:

CACOVID Operations Committee


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BUA purchases 1million Doses of AstraZeneca Covid-19 Vaccines for Nigeria to be delivered next week 

...commits to purchase 5million vaccines through BUA/CACOVID/AFREXIM Partnership to be distributed to Nigerians at no cost.

 

BUA, one of Africa's largest conglomerates, has paid for 1 million doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines for Nigeria through the AFREXIM Vaccine programme in partnership with CACOVID. These doses of the vaccine which should be delivered by next week, will be the first delivery of Vaccines to Nigeria since the COVID-19 vaccines became available. According to BUA, the vaccines will be distributed free to Nigerians at no cost.

 

Speaking on this development, Philanthropist and Founder of BUA, Abdul Samad Rabiu  thanked the President of the with Afreximbank, Dr. Benedict Oramah for making the purchase possible and the Nigerian Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele, for coordinating the process through the CACOVID Private Sector partnership. According to him, "BUA decided to secure these 1million vaccines by paying the full amount for the vaccines today because these vaccines became available only last week through AFREXIM. We expect the vaccines to be delivered within the next 14 days and hope priority will be given to our frontline workers who have committed their lives to managing the pandemic."

 

"In addition to this, BUA is committing to purchase 5 million doses for Nigeria as soon as they become available through this same arrangement.", Rabiu added.

 

This development effectively pushes Africa's most populous nation to the front of the queue in vaccine procurement. 

 

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Covid-19 Vaccine: Nigeria to Receive 16m AstraZeneca Doses in February 2021

 

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) has debunked the rumour going around that it has disqualified Nigeria from accessing the Pfizer led COVID-19 vaccine. WHO said it has not disqualified any country in Africa from accessing COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX facility, but rather it's supporting all countries to access vaccines as quickly as possible to tackle the challenges of the pandemic.

 

The representative of WHO in Nigeria, Dr. Walter Kazadi Mulomboo who was speaking at a joint press conference with the National Primary Health Development Agency (NPHCDA) said currently, all countries on the continent are expected to start accessing the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccines by the end of February.

 

"The vaccine is under review by WHO for Emergency Use Listing and the outcome is expected soon. Of the 88 million AstraZeneca doses allocated to African countries for the first phase, Nigeria has received by far the largest allocation, with 16 million doses.

 

"In addition to the Astra Zeneca doses, there is an initial limited volume of Pfizer vaccine available through COVAX. Demand for the initial allocation of 1.2 million Pfizer doses was exceptionally high. COVAX received interest from 72 countries around the world, of which 51 countries were considered by the review committee as "ready" (Nigeria was among these countries) and 18 countries in total were finally chosen to receive initial Pfizer doses."

 

Dr. Walter said on the Africa continent, as of the 18 January deadline, 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 while also saying, unfortunately, it was not feasible to provide each of these 51 countries with Pfizer doses, due to several factors including the limited capacity for Pfizer to handle many countries at once.

 

"Therefore, spreading the limited doses across all the 51 countries deemed 'ready' could have not achieved the intended public health benefit. After epidemiological data were considered, the decision was taken to proportionally balance the number of self-financing and AMC Participants, as well as Participants across all 6 WHO regions."

 

The Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer, NPHCDA, Dr. Faisal Shuaib while speaking at the emergency press briefing said, there are several factors that were considered in allocating the small quantity of the 320,000 doses of Pfizer vaccine to COVAX countries.

 

He listed the factors to include the mortality rates from COVID-19, the number of new cases, the trend in the number of cases, the population of countries and the availability of the appropriate Cold Chain equipment adding that countries such as South Africa which received the Pfizer allocation have the new strain of the COVID-19 virus, has the highest mortality rates and is struggling to contain transmission.

 

He further said giving smaller countries such as Cape Verde and Rwanda few doses of the Pfizer vaccine would have a larger public health impact considering their population size.

 

"100,000 doses to Nigeria, we have all agreed would have been a drop in the ocean. So, it is a welcome development that we are receiving 16million doses of the Astrazeneca vaccine to replace the Pfizer vaccine in the same month of February.

 

"The 16million doses will invariably help us reach more of our population and is suited to our existing cold chain system."

 

NB: The text above - Covid-19 Vaccine: Nigeria to Receive 16m AstraZeneca Doses in February first appeared on the NPHCDA website on Saturday, February 06, 2021. 

 

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Related Links - COVID 19 & CACOVID


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