PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has come under attack from angry Nigerians after he called for an ‘equitable’ distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine.
The president has made the call in a statement issued by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr. Garba Shehu, after reports emerged that a vaccine developed by pharmaceutical firm, Pfizer, in collaboration with BioNTech SE, has a 90 percent potency against the dreaded disease.
The statement, titled ‘President Buhari welcomes COVID vaccine, calls for equitable distribution’, read, “President Muhammadu Buhari has welcomed the arrival of first effective coronavirus vaccine after a successful human trial phase.
“Reacting to news that the vaccine has recorded 90 percent effectiveness against the disease, the President described the development as a major milestone in medical advance but warned that the world must unite in facilitating the equitable access and distribution of these vaccines to protect people in all countries.
“President Buhari reiterated his earlier call that “only a Peoples Vaccine with equality and solidarity at its core can protect all humanity and get our societies safely running again. A bold international agreement cannot wait.”
A presidential aide, Bashir Ahmed, posted the statement Twitter on November 9, via his Twitter handle, @BashirAhmaad.
But Twitter users, who reacted to the statement, blasted the president for asking for an ‘equitable’ distribution of the vaccine.
Some of the Twitter users criticised Buhari for making the call when Nigerian universities, which ought to be research centres, have remained closed for months due to his administration’s inability to resolve the strike embarked on by members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
Others noted that the call for equitable distribution was out of place since Nigeria did not play any role in the development of the vaccine.
Buhari was also attacked for rushing to accept the vaccine whereas the government usually ignore or reject claims of discovery of COVID-19 cures by Nigerian medical practitioners and researchers.
In some of the reactions to Buhari’s call for equitable distribution of the vaccine, a Twitter user going by the name, OkaniIfeanyiczar, tweeted, “What role did we play as a country? The universities that are supposed to be our research centres are on strike. This is what happens when we mistakenly elect someone that does not know the value of education.”
Suggesting that the vaccine could eventually become a means of self-enrichment for government officials, another Twitter user, Alpha_lonewalker, quipped, “They (government) will probably buy the vaccine in trillion of dollars, just wait and see.”
In the same vein, alluding to the recent discovery of undistributed COVID-19 palliative items in warehouses across the country, Oyelele Idowu wrote, “The vaccine that the government will hoard, divert for their family members alone. Please don’t waste Nigerian money on vaccine this time around! We know how you handle palliatives.”
Also reacting to the statement, Dr Abdul Giza said, “As it has proved to be 90 percent effective at this stage, I hope the Nigerian government will order and act with empathy in immediate distribution to the populace. Not sure hiding these vaccines will aid any political gains.”
“Time to cash out. Expected breaking news will be ‘FG earmarks …. billion dollars for COVID-19 vaccine, after 12 months. Fund meant for vaccine found in Ikoyi and private account. End of story. They (government) spent 3 trillion on COVID-19 indomie. Corruption personified,” yet another Twitter user, Realist, stated.
Atagana Great, while reacting to the President’s call for equitable distribution of the vaccine, observed, “Nigeria is so blessed with wealth to fund world class universities that can rival that of Cambridge, Oxford or MIT. What do we use our funds for? Oh yes share it corruptly within our selfish leaders.”
Also reacting to the statement, A Twitter user that goes by the moniker Dr. DoGood, noted, “When will Nigeria join the league of nations fighting to produce these vaccines? Imagine how much that will add to our economy. Our medical research institutions are lying waste without proper funding. Sit up Nigerian government, sit up!!”
“We (Nigeria) are overly dependent on imported expertise and products which has frustrated optimisation of our ingenuity,” Realist further observed.
Chukwunyelu!, while reacting to the President’s statement, noted that the Buhari-led Federal Government has been following the bandwagon on the global stage. He said, “One of the biggest bane of globalism and multilateralism is that it de-emphasises local ingenuity and industry. I now understand why this government (Buhari administration) hurriedly congratulated Biden (Democratic Party candidate in United States presidential election). Copying and pasting everything we find on the global scene, especially towards COVID, is amusing.”
Also criticising Buhari for asking for equitable distribution of the vaccine, a Twitter user, Iyanuoluwa Bamidele, said, “Can you help us inform @MBuhari of ASUU strike? ASUU has been on strike for more than 7 months yet the same Federal Government has been silent throughout the strike.”
Also reacting to the development, a Twitter user, Mr Dotts, said, “We could have played a role in discovering a coronavirus vaccine but no investment in first class education and research. Only oil and cows. Embezzlement galore. Capital projects of no economic relevance and borrowing spree for personal ego and Northern development. Rubbish.”
Faulting the Federal Government’s preference for foreign products, while neglecting home-grown solutions, Inah Joseph Odey, in his reaction, claimed, “A drug was developed by a team of researchers and tested on COVID-19 patients in Plateau State, and it worked. I wonder why this hasn’t been announced or gotten attention.”
In another reaction to the statement, Omoakin tweeted, “Hahaha! Africa is always in a parasitic position in any global challenges. We need people with self-esteem and the right credentials to rule this country full of brilliant people.”
In his reaction, Dr. Oladipo Gideon Oludare wondered whether Buhari tried to find out the side effects of the vaccine before talking about its distribution.
A polio vaccine earlier developed by Pfizer and administered on many children in Kano caused serious health damage to the victims.
Gideon in a tweet argued, “90 percent effective against COVID-19 is excellent, but what about the side effects that could result from the administration of the vaccine?”
Abiodun Ayinde suggested that Buhari jumped the gun by talking about the distribution of the vaccine even before those who funded the research development.
“I laugh… Did you read what Pfizer said? Even those people that bankrolled the research into the drug have not talked about the distribution of 90 percent efficient drug,” he tweeted while reacting to the statement on Bashir Umar’s Twitter handle.
Pfizer had on November 9 disclosed that the experimental vaccine was more than 90 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 based on data from ongoing phase three trials.
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Pfizer, Albert Bourla, in a statement, said they have so far found no serious safety concerns with the vaccine.
The drug-makers have indicated their intention to seek emergency use authorisation from the United States government later in November 2020.
However, so far, Pfizer and BioNTech are yet to provide answers to some questions concerning the vaccine, including how long the drug will provide protection against the coronavirus disease.