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FACT CHECK: Reports that Atiku Abubakar is first Nigerian to receive Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine are MISLEADING




Some media platforms on Thursday, January 7, 2021, reported that Atiku Abubakar, a former vice president of Nigeria, was the first Nigerian to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

The reports were published alongside a photo of Atiku getting a shot.

However, there were other platforms that reported the news without suggesting that the prominent politician was the first Nigerian to take the vaccination.

The report that Atiku was the first Nigerian to get the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination generated a lot of discussions online and offline.


Atiku Abubakar is the first Nigerian to receive Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.


Findings by the FactCheckHub show that the claim is MISLEADING.

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Atiku Abubakar got a shot of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.  Dele Momodu, publisher of Ovation Magazine, confirmed the vaccination. So also did Paul Ibe, Atiku’s media aide.

“The importance of the COVID-19 vaccine in mitigating the effect of coronavirus cannot be overstated, particularly in Africa and Nigeria. On Wednesday, as part of the mass vaccination programme, Atiku Abubakar received the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine,” Ibe stated.

Following the outbreak of COVID-19 in Wuhan, China, in 2019, the disease within a short period became a pandemic.

Amidst increasing causalities globally and devastating effects on the global economy, the need to find a cure became a matter of urgency.

In February 2020, the World Health Organisation (WHO) set up a Global Research and Innovation Forum on the virus, with over 300 experts and funders from 48 countries.

It was to ‘identify and fund priority research’ to end the pandemic and prepare for likely future recurrence.

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In April of the same year, the World Bank joined in the race to strengthen developing country responses to the pandemic.

By November 9, 2020, Pfizer and BioNTech announced a vaccine which was said to be more than 90 percent effective in preventing the COVID-19 virus.

“This is a very positive step towards ensuring global access to COVID-19 vaccines,” Mariangela Simao, WHO assistant director-general for Access to Medicines and Health, stated in a statement.

This encouraged some countries including the United States to adopt the vaccine, especially for emergency situations.

The European Union (EU), for instance, recently ordered 300 million more vaccines, after its initial 300 million purchase.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) also adopted Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and Sinopharm for public use.

“Residents in the capital can book for the vaccine now, free of charge,” health service operator told AFP.

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It was against this backdrop that Atiku got vaccinated on Wednesday, January 6, 2021 in Dubai.

Prior to that, Adaora Okoli, a Nigerian, had  tweeted a picture of herself getting vaccinated. This was on December 16, 2020.

A screenshot of tweets from Dr Adaora Okoli’s Twitter handle @DrAdaora.

She also tweeted another picture of her taking her second dosage on January 6, 2021.

She tweeted with the hashtag #PfizerCovidVaccine: “As I see more COVID-19 patients, I know I am protected and can give my best to them”.

Okoli survived Ebola. She was infected in Lagos while treating one of the first Nigerian cases of the deadly virus. After recovery, she went to the US to study infectious diseases.

Although the vaccine is not yet in Nigeria, Nigerians like Okoli in countries where the vaccines are available are getting vaccinated.

Okoli’s vaccination pre-dates Atiku’s, showing that media reports that claimed Atiku was the first Nigerian to be vaccinated were misleading.


The claim by some media platforms that Atiku Abubakar is the first Nigerian to take the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is MISLEADING.

Author profile

Olugbenga heads the Investigations Desk at The ICIR. Do you have a scoop? Shoot him an email at oadanikin@icirnigeria.org. Twitter Handle: @OluAdanikin

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