By Chijioke Ohuocha, Reuters
ABUJA (Reuters) – Nigeria is working on what type and quantity of COVID-19 vaccines to procure and will make financial provision for them in its 2021 budget, Finance Minister Zainab Ahmed said on Tuesday.
Africa’s most populous nation has not been as hard-hit by the pandemic as others on the continent, such as South Africa, but it is in the grip of a second wave of infections.
Nigerian authorities have previously said the country is working with the COVAX programme backed by the World Health Organization and expects to receive its first doses in January.
Ahmed said the finance and health ministries should finalize an amount to allocate to vaccine procurement within the next two weeks. She said ministers also held talks with lawmakers about budgeting measures.
“We agreed that the effort needed to be done so that we have clarity as to whether the provisions to the budget will be adequate or we have to make additional provisions by way of a special supplementary budget to make more provisions for COVID-19 vaccinations,” she said.
She said lawmakers were “committed” to a “very quick” supplementary budget for additional spending on COVID-19 if that was needed.
Nigeria expects to receive COVID-19 vaccine donations that will cover 20% of its population and then procure additional 50% of its vaccine requirement to achieve herd immunity, the country’s budget head said.
The donations will include all types of vaccines, Ben Akabueze, director general of the Budget office, told a virtual conference during the 2021 budget presentation.
As of Tuesday, Nigeria had 101,3314 confirmed cases and 1,361 deaths.
(Reporting by Chijioke Ohuocha in Abuja and Alexis Akwagyiram in Lagos; Writing by Alexis Akwagyiram; Editing by Catherine Evans and Giles Elgood)