The Lagos State government says it is considering other ways to source COVID-19 vaccines in order to achieve herd immunity against the pandemic for its population.
The state’s Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, said this in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria on Sunday in Abuja.
Abayomi said, “While the first national target of vaccination is 60 per cent, we in Lagos are looking for vaccines to create full coverage that will be safe.
“And even for children, as well as other immuno compromised individuals that do not fall into the normal criteria, as the pace at which we are going is extremely slow.
“We’re looking for avenues and activities to speed this up; donor partners, private sector, through advocacy because it appears that this virus is not going anytime soon.”
He said so far, the state government had been able to vaccinate just about one per cent of its population, against a target of 60 per cent.
“If you vaccinate only 60 per cent of your population, the remaining 40 per cent remains vulnerable, and the virus can circulate within that 40 per cent and create new strains, which can then affect those that have been vaccinated.
“Countries are now talking about booster shots, whereas in Lagos, we haven’t been able to deliver more than one per cent of the population. we know that the vaccine campaign is critical, and to mitigate subsequent waves,” said the commissioner.
According to him, the Lagos state government does not want to slow down the economy of the state, “We want to create a situation where the economy is relatively opened so that people can move around and commercial activities go on.
“And it seems as if the way to go, apart from the standard Non-pharmaceutical interventions, is to have a very robust vaccination strategy.”
The health commissioner, speaking further, said Lagos was committed to achieving the target of 60 per cent as soon as possible.
“Under the guidance and regulation of the federal government regulatory agencies. And by whichever ways we can do that, we hope that we can speed things up.
“We’ve missed several opportunities in between the waves. Our third wave appears to be going down now, so we’re looking for this window of opportunity again to ramp up our vaccination strategy such that we use vaccination as mitigation of subsequent waves.
“This is the new frontier, knowing what this virus is doing, and you need to know how this virus is changing. If you want to be ahead of the game,” he said.
According to Abayomi, it is no longer all about Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing on positivity, but trying to understand the mutations as the virus moves from person to person.
“We know that we can’t easily ramp up because of human resource deficits, infrastructure deficits, financial deficits.
“And so it’s important that we understand what the next challenges will be with respect to how this virus is changing itself,” he stressed.
The commissioner stated that the government had acquired sequencing equipment, because it understood that Lagos state, being the most used port of entry into Nigeria, would always be very busy.
He noted that it was from Lagos state that the virus spread to other parts of the country.
“We are not only interested in the importation of variants, we’re also interested in the mutations that are happening in our community because we too can export variants to other states.
“We’re already looking at the fourth wave, because we’ve studied the first three waves. We’ve understood very clearly what triggers the waves and we know what they are.
“We know that within reason, we can expect a fourth wave, based on the characteristics of first, second and third,” said Abayomi.