By Sola Ogundipe
The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, has approved the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for use in Nigeria.
The approval came on the heels of the listing on Monday, of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for emergency use by the World Health Organisation, WHO.
Announcing the approval on Thursday at a media briefing, the NAFDAC Director-General, Dr. Mojisola Adeyeye, said the evaluation of the Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine shows it is effective against the variant of the coronavirus first discovered in the UK, several cases of which have been reported in Nigeria.
Adeyeye who explained that three other Covid-19 vaccines are being evaluated by the agency, however, said the variant of the virus first discovered in South Africa has not been reported in the country.
The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, codenamed AZD1222, is the second COVID-19 vaccine to receive the WHO authorisation, after the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
The agency obtained the dossier of the vaccine last week and its Safety Committee immediately began evaluating its safety and efficacy for Nigerians.
The WHO listed two versions of the AstraZeneca-Oxford Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use, giving the green light for these vaccines to be rolled out globally through the COVAX facility. The approved vaccines are being produced by the Serum Institute of India, and by SKBio in South Korea.
The emergency use listing procedure assesses the quality, safety, and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines, and is a prerequisite for vaccines in the WHO co-led COVAX facility.
Nigeria has been allocated 16 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine under the COVAX facility while more doses are being expected under the Africa Union arrangement.