We are short of cooling facilities to store expected Covid-19 vaccines – Nigerian Institute of Medical Research

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The Nigerian Institute of Medical Research, NIMR has expressed concerns about Nigeria’s not having the required storage facilities to store the expected doses of Pfizer/BionTech vaccine.

The executive director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Faisal Shuaib had said the state would receive 1,800 vaccines out of the 100,000 doses of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine that is expected to arrive in the country.

The vaccines are required to be stored at minus 70 (-70) centigrade.

People like the Oyo state governor, Seyi Makinde had raised complain over not having the facilities to store the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines at the required minus 70 centigrade.

Reiterating this concerns in an interview with the Punch Newspaper, Babatunde Salako, NIMR director-general said though the country has storage facilities, they are currently occupied and are used in cooling other medical supplies and they are also inadequate.

“Our facilities can hold Pfizer vaccines at -70 degrees but we don’t have enough of such freezers and the ones we have are even full at the moment. We even just got one that we have yet to install but how many samples can it even hold?,” Salako said.

“Even if we rearrange things, I doubt if we can store more than a few hundred or thousands.

“There are many -80 freezers around in the research institutes and universities but the point is that many of them have samples inside them. So, even if we evacuate, I don’t think we will all be able to do more than a few thousands.”

He urged the government to consider purchasing alternative vaccine types like the Oxford/AstraZeneca which can be stored at higher temperatures.

“The problem is not just about storing vaccines but moving it to the rural areas and maintaining that same temperature. For example, if you land in Lagos and you store it at -70 and it has to be transported over the creek somewhere, how do you move them? There are other ways but they will be very costly. They can store them with liquid nitrogen or even dry ice but it will cost a lot of money,” he said.

“But I think all the vaccines are now being deployed in many countries. So, we can do all of them rather than do just one considering the storage capacity for Pfizer. Even the government knows that we don’t have enough space but we can be taken in batches.”

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