COVID-19: NGF Distances Govs From Bello’s Comments, Appoints Vaccine Expert

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Fayemi
Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State.
Fayemi
Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State.

The Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), on Thursday, disassociated itself from a comment made by the Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello about COVID-19 vaccine.

Bello, while addressing a crowd in Kogi earlier in the week, doubted the authenticity of the COVID-19 vaccine, despite not providing any evidence to support his claim.

He said, “Vaccines are being produced in less than one year of COVID-19. There is no vaccine yet for HIV, malaria, cancer, headache and for several other diseases that are killing us. They want to use the (COVID-19) vaccines to introduce the disease that will kill you and us. God forbid.

“We should draw our minds back to what happened in Kano during (sic) the Pfizer polio vaccines that crippled and killed our children. We have learned our lessons.

“If they say they are taking the vaccines in public, allow them to take their vaccines. Don’t say I said you should not take it but if you want to take it, open your eyes before you take the vaccines.”

However, the NGF described the statement as “ill-fated,” emphasising that the “Forum will continue to be informed and guided by science and will ensure that every decision it takes retains public and professional trust and is not compromised by conflicts of interest.”

NGF also set up a committee of experts headed by Prof. Oyewole Tomori to advise members on the procurement and administration of COVID-19 vaccines.

This was made known in a communiqué signed by the Chairman of the forum and Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi, after a virtual meeting of the governors on Wednesday, which was made public on Thursday.

The statement read partly, “Following the presentations, the Forum set up a team of experts, led by Prof. Oyewale Tomori, to advice state governors on the procurement and administration of coronavirus vaccines in the country.

“The NGF Chairman, Dr Kayode Fayemi, briefed State governors on a meeting with Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Chair of the Board of Gavi, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation, on the rollout of the COVAX facility, which is a global risk-sharing mechanism co-led by Gavi, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and the World Health Organization to facilitate pooled procurement and the equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines across developing countries. Nigeria is among 12 countries in Africa that have indicated readiness of the 92 qualified countries for the facility and will by the end of February 2021 receive its first shipment of vaccines.

“The National Primary Health Care Development Agency has indicated that vaccines will be administered in four phases, based on vaccine type and availability, initially for frontline health workers, then the aged (55 years and above), persons with underlying medical conditions and other target groups.

“On the ill-fated pronouncement made by a member of the Forum regarding the COVID-19 vaccine in a national daily, the Forum totally and categorically dissociated itself from the statement, emphasising that the Forum will continue to be informed and guided by science and will ensure that every decision it takes retains public and professional trust and is not compromised by conflicts of interest.”

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