COVID-19 Vaccination: Nigeria needs N693bn to achieve herd immunity – Expert

A professor in the Department of Community Health, Primary Care, College of Medicine, University of Lagos (UNILAG), Akin Osibogun, has said that Nigeria needs an average of N693 billion to achieve herd immunity against the ravaging coronavirus.

Mr Osibogun stated this on Tuesday during his presentation as the keynote speaker at the third edition of research fair by the Lagos State University (LASU), Ojoo.

The research fair with the theme; “Creative and Innovative Solution to the COVID-19 Pandemic,” also had Mr Osibogun speaking on the topic; “Prevention is Still Better than a Cure: Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic.”

He said the estimated fund will be enough to vaccinate about 140 million Nigerians with two doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines, which will create a herd immunity for Nigeria’s estimated 206 million population.

“Two doses of AstraZeneca (AZ) vaccines at $3 per dose for 140m Nigerians will give us herd immunity.

“The two doses will cost $840 million plus another $840 million for the cost of administration which will total $1.680 billion,” he said.

The N693 billion estimation is calculated based on the official exchange rate of N412 per dollar as of Tuesday.

Vaccination so far

Nigeria had commenced COVID-19 vaccination on March 5, 2021, having received approximately four million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines from COVAX.

Since then, the country has received more doses of various approved vaccines and has so far inoculated over four million persons.

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To achieve herd immunity against COVID-19, Nigeria had set an ambitious goal of vaccinating 40 per cent of its over 200 million population before the end of 2021, and 70 per cent by the end of 2022.

“About 70 per cent of the total population needs to receive the COVID-19 vaccines to completely eradicate the virus,” the Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Faisal Shuaib said in January ahead of the vaccine rollout.

Mr Shuaib said about 40 per cent will be vaccinated in 2021, while the remaining 30 per cent will be covered in 2022.

To vaccinate 40 per cent of Nigeria’s 200 million citizens means 80 million people would have received their full doses by the end of this year.

But with only about four million persons vaccinated so far, Nigeria may not meet it set target.

Vaccines safety

Mr Osibogun said ongoing research in Nigeria shows COVID-19 vaccines are safe and immunogenic based on data collected so far in selected states including Lagos, the epicentre of the disease in the country.

He noted that there are thousands of variants of SARS-COV-2 circulating globally.

“Viral mutation has led to increased transmissibility and decreased sensitivity to neutralising antibodies.

“The Delta variant is more transmissible and more virulent,” he said.

He said the currently available vaccines appear to be effective against most of the variants, however, there is a need for continuous monitoring of new variants that may require modifications to the vaccines.

He explained that rapid vaccination of large populations may help stop viral variation and end the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is important to note that the strength of the vaccines is to prevent serious manifestation of disease and not to prevent infection.

“Other layers of protection like face masks, hand washing are still recommended even after vaccination,” he said.

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