ABUJA, Nigeria 

Nigeria said Wednesday it expects to obtain its first shipment of a COVID-19 vaccine in January.

A committee has been set up to select the vaccine most suitable for the country against the virus, Health Minister Osagie Ehanire said in a statement.

He said that since different temperatures are required to protect vaccines, they must choose the most appropriate one from the existing vaccines.

Nigeria has signed up with the Global Vaccine Alliance Initiative (Gavi) for access to vaccines, said Ehanire, adding they have also registered for COVID-19 vaccines with the Global Access Program (COVAX) co-led by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The minister had earlier announced that the government would receive 20 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

More than 75,000 cases have been detected in Nigeria so far while 1,200 people have died due to the virus.

The director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), John Nkengasong, said last month that vaccination in Africa may not begin until the second quarter of 2021, adding the need for cold storage of vaccines would be the biggest challenge for the continent.

Since first emerging in Wuhan, China in December last year, COVID-19 has claimed over 1.64 million lives in 191 countries and regions.

More than 74 million cases have been reported worldwide and nearly 42 million recoveries, according to figures compiled by US-based Johns Hopkins University.

While the US, India and Brazil remain the worst-hit countries in terms of the number of cases, Europe is in the grip of a devastating second wave of infections.​​​​​​​

*Writing by Merve Berker

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