Coronavirus Updates

December 22, 2021

COVID-19: FG destroys over 1m doses of AstraZeneca vaccines

Uganda will import five million doses of AstraZeneca vaccines next month after the discovery of new COVID-19 variants in the country, President Yoweri Museveni has said. In a televised address to the nation late Friday, Museveni said the vaccines will be used to vaccinate at least 80 per cent of the 5.5 million elderly. People below 50 years, with underlying medical conditions that are at high risk of contracting the novel coronavirus, will also be vaccinated. Uganda targets to vaccinate more than 21.9 million people who face the highest risk of the infection, including the health workers, teachers, social workers and security personnel, elderly and those with underlying medical conditions. “The government is working hard to ensure we bring another five million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine before the end of May to complete the threshold vaccination and ensure that those vaccinated before getting the second booster dose,’’ said Museveni. “Vaccines are the most effective intervention we have against COVID-19. “The government and partners are working hard to bring vaccines to most adult Ugandans to protect them and to support us to reopen the economy and get back all our children to school.’’ Henry Mwebesa, Director-General of Health Services, last week said Uganda is scheduled to receive some two million more doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines in May through the COVAX facility. Uganda has so far received 964,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines from the COVAX vaccine sharing programme and the Indian government. As of April 16, a total of 220,893 people had been inoculated with the first jab of AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19, according to the Ministry of Health statistics. The country has reported the emergence of the highly transmissible COVID-19 variants which were first reported in Britain, South Africa and Nigeria. The ministry’s data showed that as of April 16, Uganda had registered a cumulative total of 41,340 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 40,898 recoveries and 338 deaths.

By Joseph Erunke – Abuja

The federal government has destroyed about 1,066,214 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines donated to the country to combat COVID-19.

The destruction carried out on Wednesday in Abuja, according to the government, followed the expiration of the vaccines given to the country by foreign donors.

The National Primary Health Care Development Agency, NPHCDA handed the vaccines to the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, which in turn, presented them to the Abuja Environmental Protection Agency to destroy at Gosa Dumsite, at Kilometer 2, near Idu Railway Station, in Abuja.

The destruction was supervised by the Executive Director of NPHCDA, Dr Faisal Shuaib and the Director General of NAFDAC, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, respectively.

Speaking shortly before the destruction was carried out, NPHCDA’s Executive Director, Dr Faisal Shuaib, explained that the action was carried out on behalf of the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19, comprising also the Federal Ministry of Health, the National Primary Health Care Development Agency and the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC.

“We had promised you in the last couple of days that we have successfully withdrawn about 1,066,214 of expired Astrazenecal vaccine.

“As you can see, this vaccine has now been deposited by the Abuja Environmental Protection Agency.

“We have come through in our promise to all Nigerians to be transparent in our delivery of vaccines.

“These did not expire before we took the decision to withdraw them,” he said.

According to Dr Faisal Shuaib, “Today is an opportunity for Nigerians to have further faith in our vaccination programme because we have lived up to the expectations of all Nigerians.”

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“We had the option if we were to take the advice of some experts to try and use these vaccines even beyond the labelled expiry date. But working together with my sister,the DG of NAFDAC, we took that decision to destroy the vaccines at the point that they got expired,” he added.

According to the NPHCDA boss, the destruction of the expired vaccines was to “further demonstrate the high standards that we operate within Nigeria.”

“The work that we do is work that requires trust. It is a sacred trust that has been bestowed on us by the generality of the whole Nigerians. We hold that trust to be true and we guide that trust very jealously.  This is why today we are destroying these vaccines that have expired,” he said.

He spoke further: “I want to assure all Nigerians that the heroes of today’s activities are actually the frontline health workers.

“A few months ago, when these vaccines were offered to us,we knew that we have a short shelve life but we were living in an environment where the supply of COVID-19 vaccines were very scarce.

“They were not available due to vaccine nationalism. We had developed countries that procured these vaccines and hoarded them in their stores.

“At the point that they were about to expire, they were offered for donation. While we appreciate the donations from these countries, we have to acknowledge the fact that they were almost expired vaccines.

“Because we wanted to satisfy and protect Nigerians, we offered to accept these vaccines, work collaboratively with NAFDAC to ensure they also test the vaccines to be in good condition then we roll out. We rolled out under very difficult circumstances.”

He commended frontline health workers for doing excellent jobs, explaining that: “We actually got our frontline workers working nigh night and day.

“Staff of the National Health Care Development Agency did not know Saturdays or Sundays, they were working round the clock under very extreme situations just to make sure that Nigerians have access to vaccines even when these vaccines were not widely available.”

He disclosed that, “We were able to vaccinate over 10 million Nigerians with these short live shelve vaccine.”

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“If we were to wait till much late when vaccines would be readily available, maybe we could not have gotten any Nigerian vaccinated by now.

“So my heart and my pride go out to those frontline health workers that continue to work round the clock. We still have short shelve life vaccines in the country, they are still potent, they have not reached their end-of-use stage and the health workers are still going there, working settlement by settlement, rural area by rural areas just to make sure that these vaccines are being administered,” he said.

“We have saved Nigerians over $40 million resources that can be ploughed into other areas of the health sector.

“We will continue to work with them, we will continue to encourage the health workers so that they will be able to vaccinate at least over 70 per cent of the eligible population and achieve health immunity,” he further said.

Going further, Shuaib said, “We guarantee Nigerians that these vaccines that we use are safe, they are effective, they can protect Nigerians against severe form of COVID-19 and also protect from death against COVID-19.”

“The only people that are mostly dying from COVID-19 are the people who are unvaccinated, very few people that have been vaccinated are dying from COVID-19, more often than not is because they have underlying condition, not just COVID-19.

“There is more than ample evidence to indicate that once you get vaccinated, you would be protected from COVID-19.

“When we started before March, there were a lot of conspiracies about COVID-19 but day after day, week after week, we have been able to prove that these conspiracy theories are exactly what they are-conspiracy theories that have no basis, they only work bases on the fears and indecision of Nigerians. 

“Now that we have over 10 million Nigerians that have been vaccinated, there is ample evidence that these vaccines do not cause you to die immediately after you take to them, these vaccines don’t make you magnetic, these vaccines don’t make you become a robot, and all the things they said will happen to you when you take the vaccines.

“There are a lot of women that have taken the vaccines while pregnant and their children have come out very well and even some women who have taken the vaccines and later became pregnant.

“So a lot of the conspiracy theories are because of some armchair specialists that really don’t understand science.”

On her part, the NAFDAC DG, Mojisola Adeyeye, said the destruction of the expired vaccines was “a continuous unfolding of the fact that the best is for us Nigerians.”

“Nigeria is a unique country in terms of immunisation, we have a regulatory agency and primary health working hand in hand since September of last year, planning on when the vaccines would arrive.

“It is only Nigeria that had that kind of setting. Many other countries’ regulatory agencies have been told to copy what Nigeria is doing.  Nigeria has one of the best vaccination immunization programme in the world. UNICEF mentioned it last year.

“In terms of what we are witnessing today, it is a continuous unfolding of the fact that the best is for us Nigerians.

“Nigerians deserve the best in terms of quality of medicines and vaccines.

“That was the basis for the endless meeting between National Primary Health Care Development Agency and NAFDAC.

“When NAFDAC approves a vaccines, we wait for the vaccines to come.

“Just like my brother, the DG of NPHCDA said, the vaccines came with primary health care agency as the marketing authorisation holder.

“They are the ones to receive the vaccines to immunize the country. However,we have been working day and night together.

“And what he said as vaccines coming to the country with expiration dating posed a challenge to us as a country. But because of the love of country,we decided to work with that transfer of challenge”, she said.

Vanguard News Nigeria