Nigeria on Tuesday received 3.94 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, the much-awaited first batch of vaccines from the COVAX Facility to the country, a presidential aide said in Abuja.

“Nigeria has just received the first batch of Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine,” tweeted presidential aide Bashir Ahmad.

The 3.94 million doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine arrived at the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport in the capital, Abuja, ushered by top government officials at a short ceremony.

With the delivery, Nigeria becomes the third West African country after Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire to receive the vaccine from the COVAX Facility.

It is the first of such shipments expected to be made to Nigeria in the efforts to control the spread of the COVID-19.

In a statement, the United Nations (UN) in Nigeria, said the arrival marked a historic step towards the goal to ensure equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines globally.

Edward Kallon, the UN resident coordinator in Nigeria, said the arrival of these vaccines in Abuja “marks a milestone for the COVAX Facility in its unprecedented effort to deliver at least 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines globally by the end of 2021.”

These vaccines have undergone rigorous regulatory processes at the global and country levels, and have been deemed safe and effective, said Walter Kazadi Mulombo, the World Health Organization representative in Nigeria.

“Vaccines are a critical new tool in the battle against COVID-19; therefore, this is a step in the right direction,” Mulombo added.

The Nigerian authorities have a goal to administer the COVID-19 vaccine in a phased, equitable manner, and ultimately vaccinate all eligible Nigerians within the next two years to ensure herd immunity, said Olorunimbe Mamora, the minister of state for health.

According to Mamora, all plans and arrangements have been finalized to ensure a hitch-free rollout of vaccination.

He said such arrangements included training of health workers, secured logistics, and cold-chain equipment to receive vaccines in all wards of the federation.

The government would begin the rollout with the vaccination of frontline health workers, who are the first line of defense, he explained.

Following the delivery of the vaccine, President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo will pick dates on which they will be vaccinated publicly, said Faisal Shuaib, head of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency.

“I once again assure Nigerians that all necessary safety and quality control measures have been put in place for the arrival, storage, and successful administration of the vaccine in the country,” Shuaib added.

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