COVID-19 vaccines administered to Nigerians safe, efficacious — Nigerian researchers

No evidence of adverse hematological changes, platelet counts

By Chioma Obinna

Nigerian researchers have found that the COVID-19 vaccine administered to Nigerians is safe and efficacious.   The researchers also found that there have been zero COVID-19 vaccine-related mortality and zero vaccine-related hospitalisation in vaccines in Nigeria.

Also, contrary to earlier speculations of a blood clot in vaccines, the researchers also found in another study that the vaccine administered to Nigerians did not adversely affect haematological parameters and was thus haematologically safe.

The studies entitled: “Monitoring for safety signals following COVID vaccination in Nigeria and COVID vaccine immunogenicity in Lagos State” and partially presented at recent annual researchers meeting on COVID Vaccine safety and efficacy in Abuja under the auspices of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, NPHCDA, followed up 1,284 vaccinees who received their doses in March and April 2021 from six selected states – Katsina, Plateau,  Borno,  Anambra, Edo and Lagos States.

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The researchers, led by Prof. Akin Osibogun, who is a consultant public health physician, former Chief Medical Director, Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, Idi-Araba, and Chairman, Lagos State Primary Health Care Board, carried out an active follow up on a weekly basis and sought to know if the vaccinees had any complaints.

The research team consists of lead investigators and other researchers including, Prof Akin Osibogun from the College of Medicine University of Lagos,     Professor Bayo Onajole from College of Medicine University of Lagos, Professor Clara Ejembi from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Professor Abdullahi Mohammed, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Professor Mathilda Banwat, University of Jos, Professor Yahaya Shuaib, University of Maiduguri,    Professor Omokhoa Adeleye, University of Benin,  Professor Ololade Wright, Lagos State University College of Medicine and Prof Chigozie Ifeadike of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University,  Nnewi.

From their findings, vaccinees were also provided with the facility to call a designated health worker if they had any vaccination-related complaints.

The lead researcher, Prof Akin Osibogun told Vanguard, that the vaccinees were followed up for 12 weeks and throughout that period, none of the vaccinees in the study sample died or was hospitalised following vaccination.

 “Also, the findings show Zero vaccine-related mortality and zero vaccine-related hospitalisation. : “Fifty-two per cent of the vaccinees reported local and systemic reactions to vaccination including pain at the injection site, redness at the injection site, generalised weakness and fatigue.

“However, virtually all complaints disappeared within three days after vaccination.”

He stated that the active monitoring of safety signals in vaccinees in this study has shown that the vaccine administered to Nigerians is safe.Also, reported at the Abuja Research meeting was a parallel but smaller study in Lagos State sponsored by the State Government, (though the researchers again are fully responsible for research conduct and findings), they followed up 125 vaccinees whose haematological parameters and neutralising antibodies were monitored over 12 weeks to detect any changes.

The main of the study findings were that the administered vaccine did not adversely affect haematological parameters and was thus haematologically safe.

Osibogun stated that the study found that there was no adverse change to Platelet count – an important finding in light of some earlier reports on possible clotting problems with vaccination.

“The vaccine-elicited cellular immunogenic response as evidenced by rising CD4 and CD8 counts over the 12 week period of follow up.

“The vaccine elicited humoral immunogenic response as evidenced by rising neutralising antibody proportion over the 12 week period.”

Based on the presented data at the Abuja meeting, the researchers concluded that the vaccine administered in Nigeria during the period of study and involved in the study was safe and efficacious. The researchers further proposed to continue to follow up of some of the vaccinees with a view to determining at what point observed immunogenic responses will begin to decline and what implications for a possible recommendation on booster doses.

He, however, told Good Health Weekly that the findings of these studies are yet to be published in peer-reviewed journals but have been partly presented at the Annual General Meeting of the Africa Epidemiology Association.

Osibogun expressed hope that the evidence can help counter the insufficiency of available information and the concomitant vaccine hesitancy as the country try to urgently bring the pandemic under control for citizens to return to normal living.

Vanguard News Nigeria

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