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‘No country can afford prolonged shutdown’ – President Buhari calls for fairer distribution of COVID vaccines

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has stated that there needs to be equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines across the world.

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This was stated on Friday by President Buhari in his address at the general debate of the 76th session of United Nations general assembly (UNGA) in New York, USA.

This is coming amid concerns by stakeholders such as World Health Organisation (WHO) and the World Trade Organisation (WTO) over equitable distribution of vaccines globally.

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Buhari, who noted that the country has recorded some level of success in the fight against COVID-19, expressed his appreciation to the international community for its support on managing the pandemic in Nigeria.

He, however, said unfair distribution of vaccines could result in high infection rates that may result in prolonged lockdown.

“I want to thank the international community for the concerted response to COVID-19. The solidarity and drive to contain the first truly global health emergency of our time is a pointer to the many things we can achieve if we work together,” he said.

“On our part, Nigeria has made strenuous efforts to contain the virus and halt its deadly onslaught on our people. Our efforts have been rewarded with moderate success.

“At the outset, we recognised detection and contact tracing to be important tools in combating the virus. In this connection, from a mere four laboratories with testing and detection capacities, we ramped up the facilities to over 140 centres today.

“Similarly, we built isolation centres and emergency hospitals wards in record time all over the country. We carry out genomic sequencing in designated laboratories across the country with a view to detecting variants in circulation.

“In addition, over 40,000 health care workers have recently been trained on infection, prevention and control measures with the support of various partners. Through the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, we have established 16 infectious disease treatment centres located within our teaching hospitals and federal medical centres.

“Nigeria remains grateful for the assistance received from our partners and friends all over the world. Vaccination is the key to our safe emergence from the pandemic. We fully support the COVAX initiative from which we have benefitted. We also thank the United States of America, Turkey, India, China, European Union, and others for the vaccines provided.

“Despite the acknowledgement however, I would like to reiterate my call for a fairer and more equitable distribution of vaccines to all countries so that, together, we can fight and contain the pandemic.

“The rising wave of newer and more contagious strains, makes this even more urgent. No country can afford the socio-economic implications of prolonged shutdown. It is imperative to underscore that no one is safe until everyone is safe.”

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