The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) says COVID-19 vaccines do not contain electromagnetic ingredients that can cause side effects.
The Executive Director, NPHCDA, Dr Faisal Shuaib, said this at a press briefing on Tuesday in Abuja.
The briefing was in reaction to reports on social media that electronic devices recognised people that had received the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
The unsubstantiated reports claimed that anyone who received the vaccine would become magnetic and have their DNA altered and die from blood clots.
He said the typical dose was not large enough to contain a magnet, and that a magnet that could fit in a needle would not be powerful enough to attract anything.
“We are witnessing an increasing wave of COVID-19 misinformation and disinformation that should leave any patriotic Nigerian wondering how long mischief-makers want the world to remain in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The creativity with which some people misinform others and spread misconceptions about COVID-19 vaccination calls for more deliberate, decisive, and consistent steps to counter as well as provide correct and accurate information.
“That will help more people to make informed decisions to get vaccinated against COVID-19,” said Shuaib.
He said it was unfortunate that the right of the public to true and accurate information on matters of collective concern was being threatened by a few others taking advantage of social media to mislead people about their health.
“Let me quickly state here that this breach of public right to true and accurate information about COVID-19 vaccination is a challenge to the media, which should be taken seriously.
“There are no ingredients in the AstraZeneca vaccines or any other COVID-19 vaccines that make people exhibit magnetic properties after being vaccinated for COVID-19.
“Scientifically, the claim does not make sense,” he explained.
The NPHCDA boss said it was evident that Nigeria had made significant progress towards utilising the 4 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine it got from COVAX facility, and that was why its vaccine rollout had been described as the best in Africa.
He said it was necessary for Nigerians to confront the false theorists if they really wanted the country and the world to overcome the pandemic and recover from its adversities.
“At the onset, it was claimed that COVID-19 was introduced to justify developing vaccines that would be used to depopulate Africans. Those who came up with this theory said that anybody who takes the vaccine would die immediately.
“Today, as we all can see, nearly 4 million doses of the vaccine have been administered in Nigeria and we have not recorded any case of death linked to the vaccination.
“On seeing this reality, the rumour mongers changed their narratives to saying that the vaccines used in Europe and America are not the same as the ones used in Africa.
“Again, as evidence has come to show, it is now clear that the COVID-19 vaccines used in Europe, America and elsewhere in the World are the same used in Nigeria and other countries in Africa,” he said.
According to the NPHCDA boss, the conspiracy theorists have gone silent about this claim, and are now saying that anyone who takes the vaccine will die after two years.
“Nigerians are predominantly a country of Muslims and Christians. We know that these religions are clear that no one knows the year of the day they will die. So why would we even pay attention to such spurious claims?
“Let us not forget that this same falsehood of children dying after vaccination was spread about Polio vaccine, but after many years, children who took polio vaccine are still alive and have grown into adulthood and having their own children, as expected.
“There has not been any case of a child’s death that is linked to polio vaccination, and many more children have been born to discount another claim that polio vaccination would lead to infertility,” he stressed.
He said about 2,495,632 people had been vaccinated with the first dose, while 1,370,130 had received the second dose of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in the country.
“Overall, Nigeria has successfully utilised 3.9 million doses, representing 96 per cent of the 4,024,000 doses of the vaccines received in the country.
“Nigeria is poised to achieve 100 per cent utilisation of the doses of vaccine it has received in the next few days. This is to ensure that people are protected against COVID-19, and normalcy is restored,” said Shuaib.
Meanwhile, Dr Walter Kazadi, Country Representative, World Health Organisation (WHO), said no individual should be victimised for their inability to access vaccines.
Kazadi said Nigeria was amongst the best countries in Africa in terms of the number of persons vaccinated.
Also speaking, a representative of UNICEF in Nigeria, Dr Peter Hawkins, said misinformation during a health crisis left people unprotected and vulnerable to the disease and spread fear and stigmatisation.
According to Hawkins, who was represented by Dr. Gupta Gagan, information can be lifesaving, but people will only take on information that they trust.