The Nigerian government has shown its commitment to increasing the uptake of COVID-19 vaccines. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has announced that it will surge resources to Nigeria through its Initiative for Global Vaccine Access (Global VAX) in a bid to increase the country’s COVID-19 vaccination rates, which health authorities note is still very low.

Atul Gawande, the USAID assistant administrator for global health who disclosed this in a statement, informed that the Global VAX augments the US government’s international vaccine support in Nigeria, noting that the country is the largest donor to COVAX and already has supplied over 21.7 million doses to Nigeria as well as technical and logistical support.

According to the statement, Gwande recently told the Abuja Ports to Arms Conference that, “the Nigerian government has shown its commitment to increasing the uptake of COVID-19 vaccines, and we are proud to partner with it as the United States launches this important initiative to boost global vaccination rates. We are calling on other countries to engage further and contribute expertise and resources to identify and rapidly overcome vaccine access barriers experienced by communities around the world, especially in Africa”.

“We are pleased to have a close partnership with the Government of Nigeria on the COVID-19 response,” said U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria Mary Beth Leonard. “Given the progress Nigeria has made, and the potential to make significant, additional advancement, we are pleased to surge more resources to help rapidly increase vaccination rates,” he further said.

Since 2020, the United States has provided $143 million to support Nigeria’s COVID-19 response. As part of Global VAX, USAID plans to provide an additional $33.3 million in Nigeria to support activities that may include bolstering cold chain supply and logistics, addressing vaccine confidence and demand, and increasing the accessibility of vaccination sites. Global VAX also will support Nigeria’s existing vaccination plans, and will help get vaccines to people quickly, safely, and equitably.

This is part of an announcement made in December 2021 that the US government would provide an additional $315 million for Global VAX, bringing the total U.S. government commitment to vaccine readiness and delivery to more than $1.7 billion. Global VAX is a whole-of-U.S.-government effort to accelerate vaccine uptake toward the global goal to vaccinate 70 percent of the world population against COVID-19 in 2022.

Meanwhile, the US government has reiterated its commitment to support Nigeria and other countries around the world to address the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Leonard said this at the Flag-Off of the COVID-19 mass vaccination campaign in Imo State hosted by Governor Hope Uzodinma. Leonard noted that the U.S. has recommitted increasing access to vaccines, boosting vaccine confidence by tackling misinformation, improving last-mile vaccine delivery, and supporting health workers to vaccinate people.

“Part of this commitment is reflected in the U.S. donation of over 21.8 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, accounting for over 35 percent of the total donations to Nigeria,” she said. Imo State is currently one of the states in Nigeria with the lowest vaccine uptake. Recent data ranks Imo as 35 out of 36 states (and the FCT) with only 2.3 percent coverage for COVID 19 vaccinations. The flag-off mass vaccination campaign event serves to accelerate and expand COVID-19 vaccination access and uptake.

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