*No death, blood clot recorded so far, it clarifies
*As WHO says it’s engaging G7, G20 to tackle vaccine equity
By Joseph Erunke – Abuja
The federal government has said a total of 8,439 cases of mild, adverse effects have occurred over the application of the AstraZeneca vaccine in the country.
The cases, according to the government came out of over a million persons vaccinated with the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines.
The National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, NPHCDA, which disclosed this, explained further that
52 persons suffered moderate to severe adverse events at inoculation.
Executive Director of NPHCDA, Dr Faisal Shuaib, speaking at a joint press conference with the World Health Organisation, WHO, on Friday in Abuja, said while the mild reactions included body pains nausea, and swelling, the moderate to severe adverse events presented were fever, vomiting, diarrhea headaches, dizziness, and allergic reactions.
He said Kaduna State recorded the highest rate of AEFI with 970 cases, followed by Cross River State with 859 cases, Yobe 541 cases, Kebbi 511 cases while Lagos recorded 448 cases of adverse events.
Dr Shuaib, however, insisted that so far, there has been no case of death or blood clot recorded from the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine vaccination in the country, he maintained that the vaccination rollout in the country has been marked by safety, efficiency, best practice, and speed.
He said: “When incidents, no matter how rare, appear in populations receiving the vaccine, relevant authorities must investigate to determine whether there may be a connection between the medical incident and the vaccine.
“At this stage, different countries are taking different approaches. In Nigeria, since the vaccination program was officially rolled out on 15th of April 2021, a total of 8,439 mild Adverse events following immunization (AEFI) have been reported.
“There has been no death from the administration of the vaccine. We have also not diagnosed any case of blood clots related to the administration of the vaccines.
“Nevertheless, we are working with NAFDAC, NCDC, and other relevant agencies to set up a more active surveillance system built on our experience with polio surveillance.”
Shuaib who disclosed that the challenges encountered in Kogi state have been resolved by the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) on COVID-19, said 16,900 vaccines have been delivered and the Covid-19 vaccination campaign has been launched in the state.
While noting that inoculation of frontline health workers has been completed in many states and vaccination has proceeded to the elderly particularly those within the age of 65 years and above.
He however expressed worry some persons were skipping the eligibility lines to access the vaccines before it got to their turn.
“We are not unaware of attempts by individuals who are not eligible to access the vaccines. With willing accomplices, it will not be surprising that some may succeed.
“When people skip the eligibility lines we have established to access the C-19 Vaccines ahead of frontline health and other workers, then they should ask themselves if it is ethically and morally right to jump the queue ahead of those who need the vaccines the most.
“In anticipation of this, we have deployed structures and personnel to ensure these acts are minimized to the barest minimum. On this note, I wish to commend the Chairmen of the ICPC, the EFCC, and their personnel for the enthusiasm and dedication with which they have joined our quest for vaccine utilization transparency and accountability.”
On the global shortfall of COVID-19 vaccines, the ED noted that Nigeria has reassessed its vaccine supply forecasts and taken the decision that everyone who has taken the vaccine in the current phase would get the second dose before the next consignment was delivered to Nigeria
Commenting on the alleged mismanagement of COVID-19 vaccines at Falomo clinic, Lagos State, he said investigations have revealed the reports were inaccurate and do not represent what transpired in the mentioned locations.
“One thing that the PSC and the Lagos State Government are aligned behind, is zero tolerance to diversion of Covid-19 vaccines. The vaccine is free to all Nigerians irrespective of social standing.”
Country Representative, World Health Organisation (WHO) Dr Walter Mulombo who raised concerns over the COVID-19 vaccine equity amongst countries, noted that the WHO was working assiduously towards ensuring countries like Nigeria without the means to acquire or manufacture the vaccines have access to the vaccines to immunise their citizenry.
“For Nigeria being among the few countries outside that group, WHO is currently engaging the G7 and G20 to try and increase pressure on those countries hoarding the vaccines so that they will redistribute the vaccines and make them available through the COVAX facility or bilateral agreements to countries that need them the most
“WHO is also engaging the manufacturers for technology transfer so that we can have more sites that will manufacture the vaccines in order to scale up production but we have to recognise that we are facing challenges even within the COVAX facility.”